Which? and the Food and Drink Federation have launched a war of words over the lobby group’s latest report into food advertising to children.
Food Fables, published today by Which?, criticises food companies for “still not doing enough to curb their marketing of unhealthy food to children”. It claims that companies are using social networking sites, SMS campaign and viral promotions to target children, despite introducing voluntary policies committed to stopping marketing to children under the age of 12 years old.
It adds that it also has evidence that brands are still using traditional film tie-ups, such as the McDonald’s Happy Meals partnership with Kung Fu Panda (pictured) and Burger King’s deal with Indiana Jones, despite legislation restricting the advertising of foods high in fat, salt and sugar to children.
But the FDF has hit back at the report, attacking it for “lacking substance”. Julian Hunt, director of communication, says: “The only fables are those you will read in this sloppy report, which lacks any real substance, is very subjective and paints a misleading picture of what is actually happening.”
Which? said it was “very disappointed” that the body representing the food industry “would take this approach”.
The Which? report does highlight companies that it believes have made “notable improvements”, including Weetabix and KFC. It says both have introduced policies about not targeting under 12s, which they have stuck to, and Weetabix has reformulated its products, to be classed as “green lights” under the Food Standards Agency’s nutrient profiling.