Burger King, Salt, and Kids

Here, from Carly Weeks, writing for the Globe & Mail’s Life Blog: The math on Burger King’s salt-busting move doesn’t add up .

Burger King has found a way to instantly reduce the levels of sodium in meals marketed to children without having to drastically reformulate its products: simply stop advertising high-sodium items to kids.

Burger King Canada Restaurants of Canada Inc. announced Thursday all of the company’s kids’ meals that are advertised to children under age 12 will now contain less than 600 milligrams of sodium.

That may come as welcome news to some parents who are looking for less salty options at fast food restaurants.

But they might be surprised to learn the company’s new pledge doesn’t mean kids’ meals will actually contain significantly less salt. Instead, the company is just reducing the number of items it uses in promotional or advertising materials aimed at kids under age 12….

I’m not sure how much criticism (or praise) this deserves. On one hand, changing how BK advertises to kids seems to be a good thing. And it’s the “low-hanging fruit,” so to speak — it’s easier (i.e., requires less ethical commitment) to change advertising campaigns than to change recipes. So an optimist might count this as a good start on BK’s part. On the other hand, the net result is a kind of bait-and-switch: advertise the few low-sodium options (minus fries, etc.) that you know are not going to be what’s ordered when kids walk in the door.

About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.
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