Quebec Signals Harsher Penalties for Youth Marketing Law Violations
Quebec courts have reportedly fined a snack cake manufacturer CAN$44,000 for violating the province’s Consumer Protection Act, which forbids marketing to children younger than age 13. Saputo Inc. pleaded guilty to 22 charges resulting from a complaint filed by anti-obesity advocate Coalition Poids and the Union des Consommateurs. The groups claimed that Saputo used a cartoon gorilla to promote its product in day care centers, hailing the decision as “a victory for children.” “The World Health Organization has identified junk-food advertising
as one of the top five causes of the current obesity epidemic,” Coalition Poids Director Suzie Pellerin was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, Quebec’s consumer protection agency has apparently verified similar complaints pending against Burger King and General Mills.
Media sources have noted that the successful prosecution of Saputo could signal a shift in how Quebec enforces its unique marketing code. The last court case testing the Consumer Protection Act occurred in 1989, when a toy manufacturer lost a legal challenge before the Canadian Supreme Court. See The National Post, January 27, 2009.