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May 28, 2009
"PACKAGED FOODS EXPOSED III (Kraft)" (encore)
First aired on April 12, 2007

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The Packaged Foods Exposed series takes a look at the largest food manufacturers in the world. What products fall under their banners; how has their influence shaped economic policy, society and culture; how have they affected the environments they operate in; and what relationships do they foster within the countries they are located?

This series places corporations in a critical light, hoping to provide a more balanced image to the advertising and PR campaigns launched by some of the most influential food corporations on the planet.

Kraft Foods In this third episode of the Packaged Foods Exposed series, we take a look at the second largest food manufacturer in the world, and the largest in North America - Kraft Foods.

The first half of the broadcast will look at the company's previous ownership by tobacco giant Altria/Philip Morris, and fast track to today because since March 30, 2007, Kraft is now an independent company. Many eaters around the world are still unaware that between 1988 and 2007, support for Kraft products was support for the tobacco industry.

Within the second half of the show, Kraft's marketing strategies will be placed under a critical light following our discovery of an advertisement that was rolling in lies. Other highly questionable Kraft marketing campaigns will also be explored.

Guests

Bryan Hirsch - Organizer, Corporate Accountability International (Boston, MA) - Formerly INFACT, Corporate Accountability International is a membership organization that protects people by waging campaigns that challenge irresponsible and dangerous corporate actions around the world. For 30 years, Corporate Accountability International and our members have scored major victories that protect people's lives by forcing corporations like Nestlé, General Electric and Philip Morris/Altria to stop abusive practices. Kraft Foods has long been boycotted by the organization, but since its recent spin off from Philip Morris, the boycott has now been dropped.

Making a Killing Audio Clips

Making a Killing (2001) - Corporate Accountability International / AndersonGold Films - A powerful organizing tool in the fight for social justice and tobacco control. This documentary exposes Philip Morris/Altria's deadliest abuses. It reveals the burning truth about how the tobacco giant uses its political power, size and promotional expertise to spread tobacco addiction internationally, leaving in its wake a trail of death and destruction.



Kraft Singles Project

Complaint to Advertising Standards Canada re: Kraft Singles Advertisement Lies
April 13, 2007

Who is the Advertiser? Kraft Foods

What is the Product or Service advertised? Kraft Singles Processed Cheese Product

Where did you see the advertisement? www.exclaim.ca

When did you see the advertisement? late March 2007

Kraft Singles Description of advertisement: The Kraft Singles ad in question indicates nutritional/health "facts" that are untrue and misleading.

Complaint: The ad reads..."Kraft Singles Facts"

"Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating recommends kids get 2 to 4 servings of calcium from milk products per day"

and

"According to Statistics Canada, it is suggested that kids may not get the recommended amount of calcium"

There is no such thing as "servings of calcium", nor is there any "Milk Products" section of the food guide. [There are instead "servings of Milk and Alternatives"]

Statistics Canada has never suggested kids may not receive enough calcium*.
*Confirmed with Health Canada

Response: April 23, 2007
We did receive a letter from Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) that unfortunately cannot be shared with you as these letters are "confidential". We will indicate however, that ASC has forwarded the complaint to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). We will note that during our dialogue with the CFIA, they indicated that we should direct this complaint to.........Advertising Standards Canada. So we are now awaiting a response from the CFIA.

Learn more on how a complaint is handled by Advertising Standards Canada.

Response: June 5, 2007
"Dear Mr. Steinman: ... With regard to your complaint on the Kraft Singles Processed Cheese Product, we have forwarded to the Dairy Program of the CFIA for any necessary action. Thank you for your views on this matter.
Sincerely,
National Manager, Nutrition and Health Claims
Consumer Protection Division
Canadian Food Inspection Agency"

Follow-Up: August 20, 2007
Our efforts to contact the appropriate individuals at the CFIA resulted in unreturned emails and phone calls. We have since contacted the media department at the CFIA to determine at what stage this complaint process is in.

Response from CFIA: August 27, 2007
"I'll look into this and get back to you."

Follow-Up: September 6, 2007
With no response yet received, the same CFIA Communications Officer is contacted again.

Response from CFIA: September 6, 2007
"I can assure you that we have resolved this complaint with Kraft Foods. I cannot provide you with anything more specific. If you require any further details, you may wish to submit an Access to Information Request."

Access to Information: September 24, 2007
An Access to Information Request was made and sent to the CFIA requesting information on the outcomes of this complaint.

Learn more about the Access to Information Act.

Response from CFIA: October 15, 2007
A letter from the CFIA is received acknowledging receipt of the Access to Information request and a notice that we will be contacted in the near future. The letter also included a receipt for the $5.00 fee.

Response from CFIA: October 26, 2007

"This is further to your request pursuant to the Access to Information Act.

Your request invovles information about third parties, which is covered in section 20 of the Act. Pursuant to section 27 of the Act, we are required to contact the third parties to provide an opportunity to make written representation as to why the records should not be disclosed. The decision to release the records will be based upon review of these representations and will be subject to appeal by the third parties.

We are taking a time extenstion, of up to 60 days as defined in paragraph 9(1)(c) of the Act for the third party notification and appeal process. Should you have any questions regarding the process, please communicate with me at ____"

Enclosed were sections 9,20 and 27 of the Act.

Section 27 of the Act reads...
"THIRD PARTY INTERVENTION (1) Where the head of a government institution intends to disclose any record requested under this Act, or any part thereof, that contains or that the head of the instituation has reason to believe might contain,

(a) trade secrets of a third party,
(b) information described in pargraph 20(1)(b) that was supplied by a third party, or
(c) information the disclosure of which head of the institution could reasonably foresee might effect a result described in paragraph 20(1)(c)...

Section 20(1)(b) of the Act reads...
"Subject to this section, the head of a government institution shall refuse to disclose any record requested under this Act that contains (b) financial, commericial, scientific or technical information that is confidential information supplied to a government institution by a third party and is treated consistently in a confidential manner by the third party."

Section 20(1)(c) of the Act reads...
"Subject to this section, the head of a government institution shall refuse to disclose any record requested under this Act that contains (c) information the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to result in material financial loss or gain to, or could reasonably be expected to prejudice the competitive position of, a third party."

A final page titled "Right to Complain" was attached.
"Please be advised that you are entitled to complain to the Information Commissioner* concerning the processing of your request within sixty days of the receipt of this notice. In the event you decide to avail yourself of this right, your notice of complaint should be addressed to:_____"

*Who is the "Information Commissioner"?...
"The Information Commissioner investigates complaints from people who believe they have been denied rights under the Access to Information Act — Canada's freedom of information legislation. An independent ombudsman appointed by Parliament, the Information Commissioner has strong investigative powers and mediates between dissatisfied applicants and government institutions.

As an ombudsman, the commissioner may not order a complaint resolved in a particular way. Thus the commissioner relies on persuasion to solve disputes, asking for a Federal Court review only if an individual has been improperly denied access and a negotiated solution has proved impossible."

Learn more...

Complaint to Information Commissioner: October 26, 2007
Upon looking through the Access to Information Act, we came across Section 20(6), titled "Disclosure authorized if in public interest". The section reads, "The head of a government institution may disclose any record requested under this Act, or any part thereof, that contains information described in paragraph (1)(b), (c) or (d) if that disclosure would be in the public interest as it relates to public health, public safety or protection of the environment and, if the public interest in disclosure clearly outweighs in importance any financial loss or gain to, prejudice to the competitive position of or interference with contractual or other negotiations of a third party. R.S. 1985, c. A-1, s. 20." This section is used to justify the following letter to Canada's Information Commissioner..

Office of the Information Commissioner
Tower B, Place de Ville
112 Kent Street, 22nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1H3

October 26, 2007

Dear Mr. Marleau,

I am availing myself of my right to complain concerning my Access to Information Request under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's file A-2007-0267/ja. I have recently been informed that my request for information has now fallen under section 27 of the Act, requiring the CFIA to contact the third parties involved in the complaint. I vehemently disagree with the CFIA's use of this section to justify an extension of up to 60 days for a process that has now lasted over six months. My letter concerns the CFIA's oversight of section 20(6) - "Disclosure authorized if in public interest".

I understand a letter dated October 18 has been copied to you, but I will nevertheless outline the case to which this letter refers.

In April of 2007, I came across an Internet-based advertisement for the Singles cheese product produced by Kraft Foods. The advertisement was part of a larger campaign by the company, and this one in particular appeared on the web site for Exclaim Magazine - a national monthly entertainment publication.

The advertisement made four claims, two of which were untrue. While such incidents may occur frequently, this one is certainly an exemption. Firstly, this advertisement was for a product produced by the largest food manufacturer in North America - Kraft Foods. This company holds a significant place within the food supply of Canadians. Secondly, the first untrue statement attempted to distort wording in Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating and exploit the trust Canadians have in the guide. I will further emphasize that the guide has long been looked upon as the most important resource on food advice in Canada. And thirdly, the second statement involved the untrue referencing of research by Statistics Canada, yet another important body Canadians look to for trustworthy information affecting all of us.

In more specific detail, the first claim within the advertisement designed to promote the health benefits of Kraft Singles processed cheese product reads, "Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating recommends kids get 2 to 4 servings of calcium from milk products per day". Within the realm of nutrition and health, never has a figure referencing "servings of calcium" ever existed. Of lesser importance, nor is there any "Milk Products" section of the food guide. Instead there is a "Milk and Milk Alternatives" section. A more appropriate reference to Canada's Food Guide would be, "Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating recommends kids get 2 to 4 servings of milk and milk alternatives per day".

The second false claim was furthermore confirmed as being untrue by Health Canada itself following my request for verification. This claim reads, "According to Statistics Canada, it is suggested that kids may not get the recommended amount of calcium". According to Health Canada, Statistics Canada has never suggested kids may not receive enough calcium.

I am confident I speak for the vast majority of Canadians when I suggest that how such a violation is dealt with by a government department acting in the interest of the Canadian people, is in the public's best interest. Canadians should be well aware of how such a violation by a company with such significant influence on our diet, is dealt with by the bodies of government designed to protect the health and well-being of Canadians.

While of a lesser importance, I do believe it important to note the inefficiency and confusion that this complaint process has gone through. Upon first expressing my concerns over the phone to the CFIA, I was instructed in April of 2007, to contact Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) concerning my complaint. ASC subsequently suggested that the complaint be forwarded to the CFIA, to which I hesitantly agreed given my initial dialogue with the Agency. On June 5, I received a letter from Charmaine Kuran, the National Manager of Nutrition and Health Claims for the CFIA's Consumer Protection Division. The letter indicated that the complaint had been forwarded to Tom Hauschild of the Dairy Program of the CFIA for "any necessary action". My attempts to contact Charmaine Kuran or Tom Hauschild to determine how this complaint was handled both failed. I resorted to speaking with my initial contact at Health Canada, who, after expressing his surprise that the issue was forwarded to Mr. Hauschild, informed me that the case had ended up at the CFIA's regional office in Guelph, Ontario. I contacted the regional office, and on September 6, I received the following email from Marilyn Taylor - a Communications Officer with the CFIA, "I can assure you that we have resolved this complaint with Kraft Foods. I cannot provide you with anything more specific. If you require any further details, you may wish to submit an Access to Information Request."

Needless to say, this process has been riddled with barriers, and given the severity of the violation, I hope you agree that the continued delay presented to me is unjust and uncalled for.

I am requesting that the information I first requested as to the outcomes of my complaint, be disclosed pursuant to Section 20(6), as it is in the public's best interest. The public interest in this matter outweighs any importance in financial loss or gain to Kraft Foods, and most certainly does not sacrifice the competitive position of the company.

I appreciate your attention to this matter Mr. Marleau.

Sincerely,

Jon Steinman

Response from Information Commissioner: December 17, 2007
Through a phone conversation, we were informed that The Office of the Information Commissioner had contacted the CFIA to determine when the information requested would be received, and we were informed the information would be received in early January 2008. The original October complaint was thereby dropped.

Response from CFIA: December 28, 2007
The information requested through our Access to Information Request was received. The package included:

  1. A cover letter
  2. Duplicates of all documents already received
  3. Issue Detail Reports (Data entry forms for documents already received - CFIA Internal Use Only)
  4. A letter dated August 20, 2007, addressed to Kraft Canada Inc. from a CFIA Dairy Program Specialist (see letter below)

Click to Enlarge
CFIA Letter to Kraft Canada

Complaint to Information Commissioner: February 24, 2008
It appears the CFIA misused Section 27 of the Access to Information Act as described in the letter below. The Office of the Information Commissioner will determine if this indeed is the case.

Office of the Information Commissioner
Tower B, Place de Ville
112 Kent Street, 22nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1H3

February 24, 2008

Dear Mr. Marleau,

I am availing myself of my right to complain concerning my Access to Information Request under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's file A-2007-0267/ja. This is following receipt of the information I received dated December 28, 2007 and pursuant to this AI Request.

My most recent formal correspondence with your Office was following my letter of October 26, 2007 and filed under case #101339. That letter was a complaint instigated following receipt of a letter from the CFIA's Johanne Amyot dated October 18, 2007. The letter informed me that my Access to Information request had been extended by 60 days.

I was informed that the reason for the extension was due to the request involving information about third parties. It was suggested that pursuant to section 27 of the Act, the CFIA was required to contact the third party (Kraft Foods) to allow them an opportunity to make written representation as to why the records requested should not be disclosed.

On October 26, 2007, I filed a complaint with your Office regarding the extension (see attached), following which, on December 17, 2007 I engaged in a phone conversation with OIC Investigator Eric Murphy, and I agreed that the complaint be dropped upon learning that the information would be received from the CFIA in early January 2008.

As indicated, I received a package of information from the CFIA dated December 28, 2007 and signed by the CFIA's Andrée Marie Delisle.

I am now filing a second complaint with your Office following receipt of the requested information. The details of this complaint have already been discussed over the phone with OIC Investigator Dan Bourgeault.

It is clear to me that the CFIA misused Section 27 of the Act.

The information provided to me was not in any way of a nature that would, and according to Section 27; a) divulge trade secrets, b) divulge financial, commercial, scientific or technical information, or c) result in material financial loss or gain or prejudice the competitive position of the third party.

On the contrary, the information I received from the CFIA predominantly contained duplicates of all documentation that had already been provided to me.

The information received that I had not yet viewed were predominantly Issue Detail Reports for "CFIA internal use only", and thereby not pursuant to the use of Section 27.

The one document that could remotely have involved the use of Section 27 of the Act was a letter dated August 20, 2007 and addressed to Kraft Canada Inc. by the CFIA's Ralph Plickert. (See attached)

Of note, used within that letter were exemptions under Section 19(1) that withheld the address of Kraft Canada Inc. and the individual the letter was addressed to.

With respect to the issues raised within my complaint received by the CFIA on May 11, 2007, and of which details are outlined in the attached duplicate of the letter to your office dated October 26, 2007, the letter to Kraft Canada concluded by requesting that the company; "…ensure that such accuracy [of their advertising] is maintained in any future advertising that your company (Kraft Canada Inc.) might enter into."

It should be clear that this letter, which clearly represents the CFIA's use of Section 27, violates the intended use of the section.

Furthermore, it would seem likely, that the CFIA never did provide "written notice to the third party of the request" pursuant to Section 27 of the Act. I find it hard to believe that the CFIA would send a letter to Kraft Canada asking them for approval to release the letter dated August 20, 2007, that essentially was a request from the CFIA stating to the company, "don't do it again". Had such a letter asking for Kraft Canada's approval been made, I believe it safe to say that such a request is a rather unprofessional, and need I say, childish action on the part of the CFIA.

I appreciate your attention to this matter Mr. Marleau.

Sincerely,

Jon Steinman

Final Outcome Summer 2008
Having not heard back from the Office of the Information Commissioner, we followed up and discovered they had no record of receiving the above complaint. Given our limited resources and the clear failures to deal with this instance of false advertising in any meaningful way by Advertising Standards Canada, the CFIA, the Office of the Information Commissioner or Kraft Foods, Deconstructing Dinner chose to cease purusing this any further.


Easy Mac Letter
Letter to Kraft Foods re: U-Starvin Easy Mac Marketing Campaign
April 13, 2007

Jeri B. Finard
Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer
Kraft Foods Inc.
Three Lakes Drive
Northfield, IL
60093

Dear Ms. Finard,

I am writing to express my deepest concern with regards to Kraft Foods' current marketing campaign for your Easy Mac product. In particular, I am shocked and disturbed by the web site launched by your company found at the address www.u-starvin.com.

First and foremost, using hunger and starvation as a means through which to sell a product is founded upon a set of values of the lowest integrity. The word "starving" is, in and of itself, a very serious one to say the least. Food banks across North America are filled with your Macaroni & Cheese products, and I could never have imagined that Kraft would then go and undermine the struggles of food bank users by using starvation and hunger as a tool for profit.

Two features of the web site in particular are of greatest concern. The first involves the interactive page titled Micro Maniac, where web site users are invited to select from a list of foods and products. Upon selecting an item, a hand places the item into the microwave, sets the timer, and a camera placed inside the microwave proceeds to film the item. In one instance, laughter and cheering in the background accompany the destruction of a carton of six eggs.

As hunger and starvation is used to sell your product, it is appalling to be witness to such wastage and misuse of what would quite easily be considered a meal to billions of people around the world. Furthermore, while the web site reads in small print, "Do Not Attempt", it would be naïve to think that the Micro Maniac web site will not encourage many to try this very same activity at home.

Yet another feature on the web site of concern is the page titled "This Dude Will Eat Anything." Upon introducing himself to the web site visitor, the student asks in a weakened voice, "hey, is there anything to eat". Viewers are then invited to select anything in the dormitory room, following which; the 'starvin' student will eat it. Curdled milk, moldy meat, fish food, a burrito from the garbage that makes him ill, and licking the caked-on scraps on the microwave tray are only a handful of the items ingested.

There are perhaps millions of students across North America, who, after spending large sums of money on university and college tuitions, do so at the expense of eating healthy food and in many cases simply eating. Poverty and hunger are a serious concern among university and college-age adults. These conditions can continue well past graduation when students then spend years if not decades paying off the debt incurred during those years of schooling.

I have also come across your television ad featuring two students approaching a cafeteria counter. The employee behind the counter is obviously severely ill as he proceeds to cough violently over what may very well be healthy food located in warming trays. In fact, his coughing is reminiscent of a condition caused by smoking cigarettes. Perhaps his condition was caused by using a product of your ex-parent company Altria/Philip Morris. Upon witnessing a third student in the cafeteria remove an Easy Mac product from a microwave, the students are convinced that the packaged Easy Mac product is a safer alternative. This marketing strategy effectively discourages eating prepared hot foods that are likely far more nutritionally-balanced than a package of microwavable macaroni & cheese.

Overall, it is unquestionable that your company's marketing campaign for this product is an insult to food and an insult to the billions of people around the world who suffer from hunger, malnutrition, illness and disease.

I urge you to cease all of the above marketing activities of the Easy Mac product, and I eagerly await your response.

Sincerely

Jon Steinman

Response: In a stroke of oddity, the day this letter was sent, Jeri Finard announced she was leaving the company! In a follow-up phone call to Kraft Foods head office, they indicated that no letter was ever received. We have since resent the letter dated June 6, 2007.

Response: Our second letter was also not responded to and resulted in an email to Kraft's Media department requesting a response. The following is a letter received August 27, 2007

Dear Mr. Steinman:

Thank you for expressing your views about our most recent Easy Mac Cups advertising. We appreciate you taking the time to share your concerns and perspectives with us.

First, we want to assure you that we did not intend and would never want to offend anyone with our marketing efforts. We realize it is a challenge to produce advertising that appeals to everyone, given today's diverse audiences and differences in opinions and tastes.

This campaign was designed to appeal to college-aged consumers and tap into their sense of humor. In fact, this concept was tested and well-received in focus groups. It's important to understand this campaign is purposely exaggerated in order to capture attention, provide a dose of humor and educate viewers on the convenient aspects of the product.

This campaign was created solely to help viewers remember this brand through humor, not to offend anyone. We sincerely apologize it was perceived in that way.

Also, please understand that issues like hunger and healthy lifestyles are important to Kraft. Each year we provide millions of pounds of food and financial support to hundreds of food banks throughout North America, including America's Second Harvest and the Canadian Association of Food Banks. You can find additional information on www.kraft.com in the "responsibility" section of our site.

Additionally, Kraft is at the forefront of helping people around the world eat and live better with our Health and Wellness programs. First, we're expanding our Sensible Solution line of better-for-you products. In fact, we're in almost every aisle of the supermarket, with more than 500 products. Second, for people looking for better-for-you recipes, great tasting and more nutritious recipes and food ideas can be found on our website, www.kraftfoods.com, and in Kraft's own food & family magazine. In fact, about 25 percent of all our recipes are "Healthy Living" options and all our recipes feature nutrition information. Finally, Kraft has taken a leadership role regarding youth advertising, so we're talking to kids the way parents expect. For example, we do not advertise to children under six and only advertise our better-for-you products in all media for kids ages 6 to 11. We also voluntarily eliminated in-school marketing and set nutrition standards for Kraft products sold in schools.

Gaining a greater awareness of the diverse viewpoints of valued consumers such as yourself is very helpful as we evaluate marketing programs for our products. In fact, your comments have been shared with the appropriate marketing and advertising teams.

Again, thank you for providing your candid insights on this particular advertising campaign.

Sincerely,

Lisa Gibbons
Kraft Foods


Musical Selection (name/title/album/label)
Theme/Soundclip - Adham Shaikh, Infusion, Fusion, Sonic Turtle (CDN)
Soundbite - Nick Ayoub, Saphir, Ready or Not, Do it Right Music (CDN)
Soundbite - Bombay Dub Orchestra, Mumtaz, Bombay Dub Orchestra, Six Degrees Records
Music - David French/Louis Simao, Reflexoes em 2 por 4, Faia, Independent (CDN)



Packaged Foods Exposed

Transcript
Transcript

Marketing and Campaigns

Articles/Documents/Reports

Videos

Audio

Kraft Plants in Canada (as of April 12, 2007)

  • Niagara Falls, ON - Shredded Wheat
  • Niagara on the Lake, ON - Fruit canning
  • Cobourg, ON - Pectin, Baking powder
  • Dresden, ON - Del Monte, Primo and Aylmer Tomato products
  • Exeter, ON - Soup canning, vegetable canning, dried soups, ready to serve soups
  • Ingleside, ON - Kraft Dinner cheese powder
  • Toronto, ON - Primo Pasta plant producing approx. 20% of all pasta consumed in Canada
  • Toronto, ON - Jell-O Puddings
  • Williamstown, ON - Swiss cheese
  • La Salle, QC - Coffee processing, Bakers Chocolate, Dream Whip
  • Montreal, QC - Kraft Dinner, Salad Dressings, Spoonables, Cream Cheese, Processed Cheese, Handi Snacks, Jams, Peanut Butter (largest Kraft manufacturing site in Canada)
  • Ste Therese, QC - Pickles

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