Current television advertising, which claims that Wonder Bread is as nutritious as whole wheat bread, exaggerates the value of the product and should be banned and replaced with corrective ads, a citizens group charged yesterday.
In a petition to the Federal Trade Commission, the Center for Science in the Public Interest said that the campaign -- featuring the slogan "Nutrition That Whole Wheat Can't Beat" -- also misrepresents Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines.
Wonder Bread, which is made by International Telephone & Telegraph's Continental Baking Co. subsidiary, was forced by the FTC seven years ago to withdraw ads showing children growing as a result of eating the bread.
"White bread is far from worthless, but few nutritionists would dare suggest what ITT-Continental Baking is broadcasting through millions of TV sets," said Michael Jacobson, executive direction of the center.
"In fact, whole wheat bread beats white bread in zinc, chromium, manganese, folacin (a B vitamin), patothenic acid (a B vitamin), Vitamin B-6, Viamin E, dietary fiber and several valuable constituents."
The company defended its advertising campaign, saying that the "American consumer ought to be made better aware of the fact that enriched white bread is healthful and nutritious food.
"Enriched white bread is far and away the most popular form of bread to consumers in the country and makes an important contribution to the American diet," ITT said.
The television ad depicting a singing woman with a group of children says that the government has said that Wonder bread has "virtually the same amount of the most significant nutrients found in 100 percent whole wheat."
But the group said in its petition the Agriculture Department's dietary guidelines "encourage the consumption of whole grains, not refined carbohydrates."