Consumer Lobby Slams UK 'Junk' Food Ad Rules

22 December 2006

LONDON: An influential British consumer group has labelled proposed 'junk' food advertising restrictions as "flawed", arging that they don't go far enough to protect children from marketers' influence.

The Which? organization believes new regulations outlined by media watchdog Ofcom - to ban ads for products that are high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) from all TV programs targeted at under-16s or those considered to be of particular interest to youngsters - are not tough enough.

It wants a total pre-9pm ban on all 'junk' food commercials and is concerned about the ways of assessing which programs are of "particular appeal".

Which? claims that the twenty shows most watched by under-16s in October on leading commercial channel ITV1 would not be subject to ad restrictions under the the new rules, thus making them ineffective.

Ofcom ripostes: "For every child watching the programs listed there are typically nine adults. It would not be targeted or proportionate to impose a blanket ban before 9pm."

Industry body, the Food and Drink Federation, said it could not comment on the Which? findings, but said it it believes the Ofcom proposals go "too far".

Ofcom announced last month it is to introduce a ban on advertising HFSS foods and beverages during children's TV programmes from the end of March 2007 [WARC News: 20-Nov-6]. It is consulting on the measures until December 28, and will make a further announcement in early in the new year.

Data sourced from BBC Online; additional content by WARC staff