FSA to ban celebrities in food ads by 2006

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is making moves to enforce a ban on the use of celebrity endorsement for junk food advertising by 2006. The move will mark the end of lucrative contracts for celebrities, such as Gary Lineker’s deal with Walkers Crisps.

It has warned the food and advertising industries to take action over all promotion of junk food advertising to children in the next two years or face tougher action.

The FSA made the demands, which include calling for celebrities to only endorse healthy products, in the Action Plan on Food Promotion and Children’s Diet published on July 6. The FSA board says that taking action to reduce the advertising of unhealthy food sis the only way to improve the balance of children’s diets.

The action plan also calls for Ofcom to make changes to advertising, which the FSA firmly believes influences choice, although it supports a voluntary code on advertising at the moment. It says it will review its position next summer if progress has not been made. It also called for clearer labelling on products and menus.

The FSA’s stance echoes the report made by the Commons Health Select Committee, which also calls for voluntary self-regulation codes (MW June 3).

The plan’s publication coincided with Lord Saatchi, co-chairman of the Conservative Party and founder of M&C Saatchi, speaking out against the industry’s critics at the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers annual lunch.

He condemned interest groups that call for advertising bans instead of seeking solutions for public issues such as obesity.

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