Industry bodies query proposed food advertising changes

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Industry bodies have questioned revisions to rules on food advertising aimed at children
Industry bodies have questioned revisions to rules on food advertising aimed at children
Food and drink industry groups have challenged several changes proposed under the revised Nutrient Profiling Model (NPM) used to control the advertising and promotion of ‘less healthy’ products to children.

The Department of Health and Social Care said that dietary advice made by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition in 2016, which halved recommended intakes of so-called free (added) sugars and increased those for consumers’ fibre intake, made a review of the 2004/5 NPM necessary.

The Food Standards Agency developed the UK NPM 2004/5 to enable broadcast regulator Ofcom to identify less healthy food and drink for which marketing could be restricted during children’s television programming. Ofcom uses this model for broadcast and non-broadcast media, including online and social media.

Healthy foods at risk

A spokesman for the Food and Drink Federation welcomed the review, but warned: “The new definition risks preventing a range of foods most people would regard as healthy from being advertised to children.

“For example, puréed vegetable soup, pure fruit juice and smoothies, or yogurt with fruit purée could fail the model under the proposed changes. This flies in the face of common sense. Government policies must promote balanced diets.”

Gavin Partington, director general of the British Soft Drinks Association, said: “Given that Public Health England​ [PHE] continues to recommend 150ml of fruit juice as one of the five-a-day, we are disappointed at the suggestion by Government that fruit juice be put in the same category as other products high in fat, salt or sugar.

‘Mixed messages’

“The mixed messages from Government will not help a population already falling short on five-a-day consumption​ [according to National Diet and Nutrition Survey data].”

Professor Judy Buttriss, director general of the British Nutrition Foundation and a member of the expert group that reviewed the NPM 2004/5, warned against applying any revised NPM to things that were not part of the expert group’s remit to develop a model to govern the food and drink advertising to children.

The expert group and PHE now aim to consider responses made to the NPM consultation, which closed on 15 June, before publishing the final document.

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