Children's TV shows free to run cheese ads
THE BROADCASTING Authority of Ireland (BAI) announced yesterday that advertising cheese products on children’s television shows would after all be allowed.
Last March, the State’s broadcasting watchdog published a draft advertising code that proposed banning the advertising of cheese on children’s television because of its high fat content.
The move angered the dairy farming lobby and their concerns appear to have been taken on board by the authority, which yesterday published its revised code and exempted all cheese from the ban.
The authority said it had followed the Department of Health’s recommendation in exempting cheese from the new advertising system, due to come into effect in the middle of next year.
Under the new code, commercials for food and drink deemed to be high in fat, sugar and salt will not be permitted during children’s programmes.
Restrictions will also apply to adverts for such foods broadcast outside of children’s programming but which are directed at children. Adverts many not include celebrities, sports stars or cartoon characters.
Although allowed, cheese adverts will have to include an on-screen message indicating the recommended maximum daily consumption limit for the product.
Chief executive of the BAI Michael O’Keeffe said cheese had been taken out of the nutrient profiling model because of “the health benefits and the economic and cultural significance of cheese in an Irish context”.
Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte welcomed the decision. “This is a commonsense decision from the BAI and demonstrates that the consultation process has worked well,” he said.
Food and Drink Industry Ireland (FDII), the Ibec group that represents the food sector, welcomed the lifting of the ban but said the new advertising code was based on flawed science and would have little impact on childhood obesity rates.
“The nutrition model in the code is simply copy-and-pasted from the UK, without any reference to valuable Irish research on the subject,” FDII head of consumer foods Shane Dempsey said.
“The UK system is unscientific, out-of-date and based on the concept of a 100g measure rather than on the actual amount people eat,” he added.
The National Dairy Council, however, welcomed the decision.
“As part of a balanced diet, the food pyramid recommends five servings from the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group between the ages of nine to 18 years, and this decision supports parents and families in terms of following a healthy and balanced diet,” said Dr Catherine Logan of the dairy council.