The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has slammed consumer watchdog Which? for trying to "generate cheap headlines" about food advertising to children rather than co-operating with industry and other stakeholders.
The FDF’s comments come as Which? launches a report, Foods Fables, that looks at the methods used by manufacturers to advertise to children.
The watchdog claims: "Food companies are resorting to increasingly sophisticated and underhand marketing to push unhealthy food to children."
It looks at online and viral marketing, branding and kids clubs and claims they are used to promote high salt, fat and sugar products. It points to Coca-Cola, which claims that it does not advertise to children but used Wayne Rooney in its World Cup campaign.
Nick Stace, Which? campaign and communications director, says: "Food marketers are treating children as blank canvases on which to paint their branding."
The report comes just days after Ofcom announced plans to ban advertising of high salt, fat and sugar products during children’s programming. The broadcast regulator is currently reviewing plans to extend the ban to any channel or programme that appeals to children under 16.
The FDF says: "We are seeking to work constructively with non-governmental organisations and the Government on all aspects of marketing to children in the Department of Health’s Food and Drink Advertising and Promotion Forum. It’s disappointing that rather than work in this spirit of co-operation and partnership, Which?, has decided to generate cheap headlines which don’t really take the debate forward."