ENVI politicians back stricter rules on marketing junk food to children

© iStock/PedroPlaya

Europe's food safety and health politicians have voted in favour to further restrict marketing unhealthy food to children on TV and video platforms in a committee vote.

Members of the European Commission’s committee on environment, food safety and health (ENVI) came together yesterday to vote on proposed amendments to the Audiovisual Media and Services Directive (AVMSD), which is currently being revised.

They voted in favour of restricting unhealthy food marketing during children’s peak viewing times such as during family programmes - not just adverts broadcast around programmes specifically aimed at children. They also extended restrictions to video-sharing platforms, such as YouTube.

Romanian MEP and vice-chair of the ENVI committee, Daciana Sarbu, welcomed the changes, saying they would would help fight child obesity.

However, support did not extend to using stricter nutrient profiles to define what foods are considered unhealthy. 

European consumer rights organisation, BEUC, had called on the politicians to use nutrient profiles established by the World Health Organisation (WHO), but they backed industry's own nutrition criteria instead, leaving campaigners disappointed.

According to the nutrient profiles set by industry-led initiative, the EU Pledge, breakfast cereals that contain up to 30 g of sugar per 100 g of product may be marketed to children. In comparison, the WHO's nutrient thresholds set the limit at 15 g.

BEUC director general, Monique Goyens, said: “Industry’s voluntary efforts to market their products more responsibly are inadequate. Self-regulation is not delivering and at least MEPs have called on governments to take a greater lead if we are to protect children.

“However, it is a pity that MEPs have missed a chance to really improve children’s health. With one third of children either obese or overweight in Europe, it’s time to act.”

Signed in late 2007, the EU Pledge is a voluntary commitment made by companies including Nestlé, Unilever, Mondelez, Mars and Coca-Cola to "change the way they advertise to children”.

Dutch cartoon

In December last year the Dutch food industry, headed by the trade association, FNLI, pledged to stop using licenced cartoon characters to sell unhealthy food

and drink aimed at children up to 13 years old.

If followed through – it must first conduct an assessment to ensure it is not in breach of rules on the EU’s single market - licensed characters, such as Disney’s Nemo, will disappear from some products’ packaging and point-of-sale materials. However, this does not apply to characters that are particular to a brand, such as Tony the Tiger on Kellogg’s Frosties or Coco the Monkey on Coco Pops, not will it cover adverts on not radio, television, print or social media.

In the same month, the UK’s Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) increased restrictions on marketing junk food to children to cover non-broadcast media, including print, cinema and online social media, a move which was supported by the trade group, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

Related News

© iStock/alexsokolov

MEPs water down rules on junk food advertising to kids

Most children and adolescents watch more than two hours of TV a day

WHO urges stricter rules on food marketing to children

Children's food market worth billions

Russian children's food market needs legislative overhaul

Teach children to defend themselves against advergames

Teach children to defend themselves against advergames

Marketing to children, or the family? EU and UK data suggests clashes in TV advertising

Marketing to children, or the family? EU and UK data suggests clashes in TV advertising

Brad and Dan, from Foster's TV ad, were associated with alcohol by 77% of children

Strewth mate! Children are more familiar with Foster’s than ice-cream and biscuit brands

Source: iStock

Sugar “unacceptably high” in children’s juices & smoothies and should be reduced, researchers argue

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.