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Private Group To Develop Labels For Food Products for Children

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The group, KIDSNET, which is supported by the broadcast and cable industry, said the information on the label would help children learn better eating habits.

Karen Jaffe, the executive director of KIDSNET, said the group was inspired to develop the label when Dr. David Kessler, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said he favored a unique food label for children.

The group made its announcement at a conference sponsored here by Public Voice for Food and Health Policy, a Washington-based advocacy group.

Ms. Jaffe said the label, which would target children ages 6-12, will be developed over the next several months. The group will then try to persuade food manufacturers to place the label on their products, she said.

Funding for the effort has come from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

While the form and content of the label have yet to be agreed on, Ms. Jaffe said several key design elements are likely.

"We think it should be bold and simple, with the emphasis on graphics rather than words," she said. "We also have notions of what it should not be--an endorsement of any kind, a replacement for the regular label, judgment about food, or a way to make claims not otherwise allowed."

Dr. Kessler, who also spoke at the conference, said he would encourage food manufacturers to adopt the special label.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents 130 firms that manufacture 85 percent of the products sold in grocery stores, questioned the effectiveness of a special label aimed at children.

The association said it was still negotiating with federal officials over requirements in a 1990 law that double the required amount of information on food labels. Children could learn more about nutrition from school-based programs that emphasize the information on this new label than through an additional label specifically aimed at youngsters, it said.--E.G.

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