Top brands targeted on junk food's list
by Sean Poulter, Daily Mail
July 29, 2005
McDonald's, Kellogg's, Coca-Cola and
Walkers are being targeted for a clampdown
on junk-food advertising.
Government food watchdogs have detailed a
list of the types of products which should
have controls on their advertising because
they are deemed unhealthy.
The list is effectively the first official
definition of what the Government's own
experts consider junk foods.
The curbs could range from a ban on
advertisements during children's
broadcasting, on-screen health warnings
when the ads are screened or a quota
limiting the number of times they can be
The proposals immediately triggered a row
with the food industry, which said it was
wrong to 'demonise' certain products. The
Food Standards Agency yesterday published
details of a scoring system for food and
drink which will be used to decide where
advertising should be curtailed or not.
Foods high in fat, salt and sugar - such
as hamburgers, chicken nuggets,
cornflakes, crisps and cola drinks - are
on the list of products which face
The Government is committed to introducing
restrictions of unhealthy foods in its
Public Health White Paper which lists a
number of initiatives to tackle spiralling
Successive health and education
secretaries have repeated the commitment
and given the job of implementing change
to the FSA and the broadcasting and
advertising watchdog, Ofcom.
The FSA has now produced its model set of
guidelines to be used for categorising
A spokesman said: "The model has been
developed by the agency to help support
the independent UK communications
regulator Ofcom in its work to consider
possible restrictions to the advertising
and promotion to children of foods that
are high in fat, saturated fat, salt or
"The model utilises a simple scoring
system that rates the overall balance of
nutrients in the food.
"This means the model identifies foods
that are high in fat, salt or sugar, but
recognises the importance of fruit and
vegetables, cereal, meat and dairy-based
products in the diet."
Total ban on advertising
The British Medical Association, backbench
Labour MPs and a host of consumer and
health groups are supporting a total ban
on junk food advertising.
The BMA also wants a ban on vending
machines selling chocolate, crisps and
fizzy drinks in schools and an end to
celebrity endorsements of unhealthy food.
One million children under 16 are now
classed as obese, putting them at risk of
heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Liam
Donaldson has already warned that a
generation could die before their parents
because of health problems linked to
Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and
ethics at the BMA, said: "Children are
being bombarded with mixed messages.
"On the one hand they might learn about
healthy eating in school and then they go
home and spend hours watching TV and see
celebrities eating hamburgers, crisps or
drinking fizzy drinks.
"Children and parents are surrounded by
the marketing of unhealthy cereals, snacks
and processed meals. This has to stop."
While there is huge pressure for controls,
there are concerns that the broadcasting
regulator, Ofcom, is likely to take a soft
line. Yesterday, the Food and Drink
Federation rejected the need for
A spokesman said: "Any simplistic scheme
that demonises products doesn't take into
account the complexity of people's
lifestyles and the way they eat.
"The important thing is to look at the
whole diet rather than individual foods.
"We don't think there should be
restrictions on the marketing of certain
types of food. We need to look at
educating consumers on a balanced diet.
The UK boss of McDonald's, Peter
Beresford, has already made clear that he
rejects restrictions on TV advertising.
He has previously refused to accept that
McDonald's is in any way to blame for
rising obesity, saying: "There is no good
food or bad food, only bad diets."
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