Marketing Society chief executive Hugh Burkitt is calling for a Portman Group-style body to regulate the food industry in an attempt to prevent government intervention. He suggests the setting up of an organisation funded by food companies that recognise the importance of their commercial freedom, while tackling the obesity problem associated with junk food.
His views follow the publication of the Health White Paper, Choosing Health, last week, which indicates that the food industry will have two years to act on junk-food advertising before the Government steps in to restrict it through legislation (MW last week).
“It will be a good idea to set up a body like the Portman Group to establish consensus on food labelling and responsible advertising. The Portman Group talks directly to consumers to encourage sensible drinking and has a disciplinary role for the drinks industry, which is what the food industry needs,” says Burkitt. He adds that the food sector needs an independent body to promote healthy living; to encourage responsible marketing; and to regulate initiatives such as labelling.
The Portman Group was set up in 1989 to help prevent alcohol misuse. It supports the industry, government and consumers with research, educational material and campaigns on responsible drinking.