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Bad products to be named and shamed
 

The Sydney Morning Herald
October 29, 2007

Irresponsible companies should be afraid, very afraid.

The collective might of the world's consumer rights community has gathered in Sydney for a four-day congress set to savage companies it deems irresponsible.

The Consumers International World Congress, meeting with the official theme of Holding Corporations to Account, will on Tuesday name and shame the world's abusers of consumer trust with its Bad Products Awards.

"The 'awards' will be given to leading brand companies guilty of high profile examples of irresponsible behaviour," a congress statement says.

Australia's consumer organisation Choice has united with sister groups from more than 150 countries at the congress at Sydney's Luna Park, behind the fun park's grinning entrance.

Hoping to wipe the smiles off food marketers' faces, Choice senior policy officer Clare Hughes kick-started the congress by asking children to pack their ideal lunch box from a selection of fresh and packaged processed products.

"Some of the children were able to choose healthier foods but there were others choosing unhealthy foods who were influenced by the packaging, the colours and the characters used to promote them," Ms Hughes told reporters.

"In Australia, Choice wants effective restrictions on all forms of food marketing to children, focusing on unhealthy foods that are high in fat, salt or sugar.

"We need to put an end to TV ads and pester power promotions like the recent Shrek campaign that push unhealthy cereals and snacks to children."

The United Kingdom's Choice equivalent, Which?, is trying to make further progress after a ban on junk food television advertising during children's programs was introduced in April.

Which? senior policy officer Sue Davies, in Sydney for the congress, says the UK ad ban applies to programs with a majority child audience, based on viewer surveys.

"It's great in principle but it's not actually working because it doesn't catch evening programs that children watch as well as adults," Ms Davies said.

"We want a blanket ban on junk food television advertising until 9pm."

Ms Davies said the Sydney congress would be advancing an international code of children's food marketing aimed at becoming law in every country.

Legislation, rather than self-regulation, is also the aim of anti-soft drink campaigner Bruce Silverglade, from the US Centre for Science in the Public Interest.

He is spearheading the Global Dump Soda Campaign, and is in Sydney for the congress.

Mr Silverglade said Coca-Cola and PepsiCo had "flooded the global market with liquid candy" which was feeding childhood obesity worldwide.

The Global Dump Soda Campaign has joined the congress in calling for a total ban on advertising soft drinks to children aged under 16.

 

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