Opinion

High fat, salt and sugar foods in the spotlight

By Mariko Kubo

- Last updated on GMT

Foods high in fat, salt or sugar have been under scrutiny in recent months
Foods high in fat, salt or sugar have been under scrutiny in recent months
We know that foods high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) have been under closer scrutiny since the new restrictions on advertising came into effect last July. However, two major companies have recently been caught out.

A cereal manufacturer recently had a complaint upheld against it because of an ad for granola shown during a popular children’s television programme.

The granola was not a HFSS product, but the use of an animated character, wording such as ‘the milk turns all chocolatey’, a yellow background and music associated with the brand, meant that the ad was considered to be a brand promotion.

HFSS restrictions

It, therefore, came under the HFSS restrictions, and the manufacturer was told that the ad ‘must not be broadcast again, in or adjacent to TV programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal particularly to audiences below the age of 16’.

The Obesity Health Alliance also raised a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about an ad for a milk drink for sale at a major fast food outlet, which was in a phone box within 100 yards of a primary school.

The complaint questioned whether the drink was HFSS and, if it was, should the ad be placed where it was? The fast food outlet acknowledged that it was an HFSS product, the ad was removed the same day as the complaint, and the placement put down to human error.

Brought to the ASA

An interesting point to consider is that these complaints were brought to the ASA by professional bodies, but who brought them to the attention of those professionals?

It’s unlikely that the Obesity Health Alliance can check every phone box close to primary schools, so who alerted them to it? It seems to indicate that the general public are becoming more aware of the issues around advertising HFSS products and are seeking solutions.

Mariko Kubo is head of food & beverage regulatory at Leatherhead Food Research.

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