Montreal

Junk food marketing to kids leads to $24,000 fine for Quebec firm

Cheese maker Saputo Inc. was fined $24,000 after pleading guilty Monday to 12 counts of violating the Consumer Protection Act.

Saputo Inc. broke Quebec law by marketing gorilla-shaped cakes to small children

Cheese maker Saputo Inc. was fined $24,000 after pleading guilty Monday to 12 counts of violating the Consumer Protection Act by targeting children under the age of 13 in an advertising campaign for junk food.

The sentence was handed down at a courthouse north of Montreal immediately after the guilty pleas were registered.

In February 2007, Saputo's Vachon cake division enrolled 230 Quebec daycares in a health and exercise marketing campaign with the objective of promoting its new Igor snack cakes.

Children received bags filled with advertisements, stickers and coupons. Ads were placed in the daycares themselves, which also hosted activities that used a logo and repeatedly played a musical jingle.

A provincial coalition committed to fighting obesity complained to Quebec's Consumer Protection Office, which levied tickets against the company.

The fines will ultimately amount to $44,000 since the company faces similar charges in other judicial districts in Quebec.

A Montreal advertising firm is also facing charges in the case.