Subway Urged to Set Nutrition Standards for Foods Marketed to Children

Large Fast-Food Chain is Missing From Industry Self-Regulatory Program, Says CSPI and Other Groups


WASHINGTON—Though it has more healthy choices for children than other fast-food chains, Subway is conspicuously absent from the self-regulatory initiative that has collected commitments from 15 other food companies regarding which foods are marketed to kids and how. Today Subway was urged to join the Council of Better Business Bureau's Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and more than 30 other national and local health advocacy groups and experts.

"Self-regulation will only work and be an acceptable alternative to government regulation if all marketers participate," the groups wrote. "Pledging to market only healthier foods to children should be relatively easy for Subway given the number of healthy items and meals the company already makes and markets to children."

In a 2008 investigation of kids' menus conducted by CSPI, Subway had the healthiest choices for children. The 10,000-outlet chain is the only one that doesn't offer soda as the default choice in its kids' meals and about two-thirds of its possible kid combos did not exceed CSPI's 430-calorie threshold.

Founded in 2006, the CFBAI was designed to shift the mix of companies' youth-targeted food marketing toward healthier foods. To date the Initiative includes pledges from 15 of the largest food marketers in the country, including Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft, McDonald's, and most recently, Nestle, and Dannon. Other notable holdouts include Chuck E. Cheese's, Yum! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut), and candy makers Perfetti Van Melle and Topps.

"Working through the CBBB framework would add credibility and transparency to Subway's efforts to support parents in feeding thir children healthfully," the groups wrote.

Concurrently, Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee also called on Subway to join the kids marketing Initiative. Other signatories to the CSPI letter include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National PTA, the Consumer Federation of America and the Prevention Institute.

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Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at] or Ariana Stone (astone[at]