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Here we go Again: Misleading Reports

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008 Here we go Again: Misleading Reports

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) are concerned manufacturers are making misleading claims about fatty and sugary foods aimed at children according to the BBC (14 12 08).The BHF argue ads for brands including Kellogg’s, Dairylea and Nestle gave a “wholesome” image for unhealthy products. They want stricter regulations from government level to eradicate this problem.

This issue is somewhat more complex from the point of view that adverts for unhealthy foods are also still appearing during TV programmes seen by children, despite curbs introduced in January. With reference to a BBC article (19 09 08). With that in mind then it could most certainly be argued that children are being directly targeted via the television media and parents through the misleading imagery delivered.

Furthermore the Food and Drink Federation,(FADF) which represents manufacturers, contradict the claims and say they are “nonsense”, saying advertising was already tightly controlled.

The report was prepared by the Food Commission, a body which campaigns for better food, and looked at the advertising of children’s breakfast and lunchbox foods.

The report was prepared by the Food Commission, a body which campaigns for better food, and looked at the advertising of children’s breakfast and lunchbox foods.

More specifically as an example it used Kellogg’s “Coco Pops” Cereal Bars, which are marketed as the “best choice for a lunchbox treat”.

The use of imagery perceived was to create an illusions of wholsomeness ie grapes and wholemeal bread were used on the packaging.

In relation to Dairylea, they claimed their packaging had “no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives”, but the report said that just one portion had nearly a third of a child’s recommended daily saturated fat intake.

Nestle also came under criticism in relation to the promotion of their cereals and so-called “magic straws” describing their benefits for children’s bones, but not the fact that more than half of the weight of a “magic straw” is sugar.

On the matter of parental concern BHF chief executive Peter Hollins suggested firms were exploiting “legal loopholes” to market products to children.

He said: “It’s clear that some food companies are preying on parents’ concerns to actively market children’s food that is high in sugar, salt and fat. We are calling on the UK government to rigorously limit the marketing of unhealthy foods and make sure labels are clear and consistent.” Seems to be straight forward enough so why is this aspect not being achieved todate?

A spokesman for the Department Of Health (DOH) says more needs to be done, he states “We must do more to reduce marketing unhealthy foods to children elsewhere - and that includes kids promotions on the internet, at the cinema, in magazines.

“Ofcom is reviewing the current restrictions and will report its findings shortly.”

Not surprisingly and bearing in mind the position of the Food and Drink Federations representative Julian Hunt described the report as a “dodgy dossier” and insisted that regulations were being followed. He added “When it comes to the marketing of food and drink products, we know that the UK is one of the most strictly regulated countries in Europe.

“It is complete nonsense to suggest that manufacturers are exploiting legal loopholes in the marketing regulations - a report published by the Advertising Standards Authority only this week shows that 99% of advertising in all media is fully compliant with the rules now in place.

“It is also highly spurious to allege that nutrition and health claims are not regulated; they are, thanks to a strict EU regulation covering all nutrition and health claims on food and drink products.”

It would be fair to say watch and listen for these adverts and make up your own minds based on the evidence provided.

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