Television advertising of some cereal and crisps will still be banned during children’s programming following a controversial decision by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to ignore an independent review recommendation.
An independent review panel had recommended the FSA revoke a “protein cap” designed to stop foods high in sugar and salt escaping the ban because they are high in protein. If it were lifted some crips and sugary cereals, among other foods, would be allowed to return to screens during children’s programming.
However, the FSA decided not to follow the Panel’s advice after a government advisory body the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) warned about the “public health implications” of removing the cap.
The FSA’s “nutrient profiling model” is used by OFCOM to restrict TV food advertising to children.
The decision has been condemned by food industry body the Food and Drink Federation (FDF). “Looking forward, we have to ask how industry can plan in such an environment of regulatory uncertainty,” says the FDF director general Melanie Leech.
“We will be calling on the FSA to clarify when it expects to base its decisions on science, and when – and on what basis – it will think it appropriate to set the science aside,” she adds.
Defending the decision, FSA chair Deirdre Hutton says: “The Board takes the diets of children very seriously and we feel that it is not appropriate to relax the model.”