Junk food advertisment bans
October 24, 2008 12:00am
JUNK food advertising will be banned on children's TV under an agreement by some of the country's biggest food and drink manufacturers.
The Australian Food and Grocery Council will today announce a code to ensure that its members advertise only healthy food when the target audience is mainly children aged under 12.
The code will also apply to advertising during movies and radio programs, in publications, and on websites and computer games.
The code will also ban the use of popular or licensed characters such as the Wiggles, Shrek and Kung Fu Panda in promoting junk food.
And members will be forced to end free toy offers linked to the purchase of food.
Food and Beverage Council members include Coca-cola Amatil, Mars, and Cadbury-Schweppes.
The takeaway food industry, which includes companies such as McDonalds is also believed to be close to finalising a new agreement on rules for marketing to children.
Food and Grocery Council chief Kate Carnell said the code would ensure only healthy foods and drinks would be advertised during TV programs watched mainly by primary school children.
"We don't think the nanny state or lots of censorship is what this is about," Ms Carnell said. "This is a particular chunk of programs where often younger children are watching on their own and may not be mature enough yet to make healthy decisions for themselves."
But junk food could still be advertised on TV programs watched by teenagers and on PG-rated shows, which parents and children should be viewing together.
An independent arbiter and complaints system will be established to ensure participating companies comply. The companies will develop action plans to show how they will comply with the code's principles.
Ms Carnell said food and beverages marketed to children aged under 12 would have to meet "established scientific or Australian government standards".
"Our aim in developing the initiative is to provide a framework for food and beverage companies to promote healthy dietary choices and lifestyles to Australian children," she said.
Ms Carnell said some food companies were likely to cease advertising altogether during children's TV programs, while others would only run ads relating to healthy products.
The Food and Beverage Council will release details of the advertising code in a submission to the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
In August, ACMA said it was not considering restrictions on food and beverage advertising to children.
A recent survey found that most children don't eat enough fruit and vegetables and almost a quarter are overweight.