Junkfood Advertising Ban Outlaws Cheese and Raisins; (... Butwhite Bread and Chicken Nuggets Get All-Clear)

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), February 11, 2007 | Go to article overview

Junkfood Advertising Ban Outlaws Cheese and Raisins; (... Butwhite Bread and Chicken Nuggets Get All-Clear)


Byline: MARTIN DELGADO

THE latest attempt to tackle Britain's juvenile obesity crisis came under fire last night over a forthcoming ban on TV advertising of junk food to children that will outlaw cheese - but not chicken nuggets.

Several foods with strong health claims will be banned, including Marmite, raisins, honey, olive oil, low-fat margarines, Greek yoghurt, tomato ketchup and some breakfast cereals.

But other foods that have little nutritional value - such as plain white bread, oven chips, diet fizzy drinks and ready-cooked curry - are unaffected.

A list of foods high in fat, sugar or salt - drawn up by the Government's Food Standards Agency - forms the basis of broadcasting regulator Ofcom's proposed ban on junk food advertisements during children's programmes and earlyevening shows that are popular with under-16s.

But yesterday the FSA's 'Nutrient Profiling Model' was attacked as 'fundamentally flawed' by MPs, dieticians and industry experts, while trade magazine The Grocer has launched a campaign on its website to press for a change in the current policy.

Editor Adam Leyland said: ' Nutrient profiling in its current form should have no place in Ofcom's plans to help the Government tackle obesity.

'The ban will have a detrimental impact not just on sales of innocent food products but on children's health.' Critics say the FSA ignores nutrients such as calcium, iron and vitamins and fails to distinguish between natural and processed sugars.

And they accuse the agency of tinkering with children's health by penalising nutritious, wholesome products while doing nothing about those whose value is less certain.

Under the new rules - due to come into force at the end of next month - any manufacturer wanting to advertise a food product when most of the audience are children will be obliged to have it measured against the FSA's model.

However, independent experts say the system fails to take into account people's everyday dietary habits and casts suspicion on foods that children and adults have enjoyed for generations without any harmful health implications.

The model dictates that every food is scored according to a basic 100g portion. But this means that foods which are normally eaten only in small amounts - such as cheese, raisins or Marmite - are treated in the same way as a super-size burger from a fast-food outlet. …

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