FSA Board responds to Ofcom consultation
Tuesday 13 June 2006
The FSA Board today agreed its response to the Ofcom consultation on options for tightening the controls on the TV advertising of food to children.
Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, is consulting on options for new restrictions.
The Board expressed disappointment at the options put forward in the Ofcom consultation and agreed that none of the options provided a sufficient response to the problem of the imbalance in television advertising.
‘With a quarter of all 11 to 15 year olds now facing obesity, we have to be sure that any restrictions on advertising are aimed at children of all ages to have a real effect’
The Board agreed that any restrictions must protect children up to 15 years of age, particularly as children between 9 and 15 years often make their own food choices and purchases. The consultation's current options only focus on protecting children up to the age of nine.
The Board supported a pre-9pm watershed on advertisements for products high in fat, salt or sugar. This would offer a practical means of extending protection to older children and would be consistent with other broadcasting controls.
The Board did not support any options that would restrict advertising of all foods, including foods such as fruit and vegetables, which would conflict with the promotion of healthy eating.
Currently, only one of the consultation's options uses the Agency's Nutrient Profiling model to ensure that restrictions only apply to foods that are high in fat, salt or sugar. Underpinning the restrictions with the Nutrient Profiling model would provide an incentive for industry to reformulate their products to reduce fat, salt and sugar.
Furthermore, if industry or any other party proposes a workable and effective 'fourth option', the Board requested that any viable approach be subject to consultation with other interested parties.
Deirdre Hutton, Chair of the Food Standards Agency, said: 'Children are targeted every day with messages that promote foods that are high in fat, salt or sugar, and the Hastings Review clearly showed that this does have an influence on children's food choices.
'With a quarter of all 11 to 15 year olds now facing obesity, we have to be sure that any restrictions on advertising are aimed at children of all ages to have a real effect in helping to reverse this trend. This includes making sure that we do not inadvertently restrict the positive promotion of healthy foods.'
The Agency's Nutrient Profiling model was developed to provide Ofcom with a tool for categorising foods on the basis of their nutrient content and help in its work to reduce the amount of advertising directed at children for foods high in saturated fat, sugar or salt.
The Board's response to the Ofcom consultation was originally discussed at the FSA's closed Board Meeting in May 2006 in order to meet Ofcom's previous consultation deadline of 6 June.
However, Ofcom have since extended this deadline to 30 June, enabling the Board to discuss and agree the response in its June open session.
The draft minutes of the May closed discussion, audio transcript and background papers are available online from the link below.
|FSA Response to Ofcom Consultation on Broadcast Advertising of Food to Children - Audio Recording|
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