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FSA clashes with Ofcom over junk food ads

Food watchdog calls for pre-watershed ban

The government’s food watchdog has today called for a complete pre-watershed ban on junk food adverts.


The Food Standards Agency has said that banning adverts for foods high in fat, salt or sugar before 9 pm would protect children’s health.

But broadcast regulator Ofcom is proposing to curb junk food ads only during programmes aimed at children. Today the FSA’s board rejected all of Ofcom’s current options.

Pre-watershed ban

Which? wants a ban on junk food ads before the 9pm watershed. Our research has shown that more youngsters watch evening programmes, such as the soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale, than watch specific children’s programmes.

Which? Chief Policy Adviser, Sue Davies, said: ‘Which? strongly supports the FSA’s decision backing a 9pm watershed for advertising of unhealthy foods to children. We hope that Ofcom can now accept that its approach is completely flawed and put children’s health first.

‘Food advertising affects the foods that children choose. Ofcom needs to listen to the evidence and put parents’ views before industry profit’

In a draft response to Ofcom’s consultation, the FSA says it’s ‘disappointed’ with the regulator’s proposals, adding that ‘none of them adequately addresses the issue’.

Ofcom consultation

The FSA said Ofcom’s proposals focus on protecting children aged nine and under from the effects of junk food advertising. But it added that a complete pre-9pm watershed ban would offer ‘a practical means of extending protection to older age groups’.

The number of obese children aged 11 to 15 has nearly doubled in a decade – with around one in four in that age group now considered obese.

Ofcom’s consultation closes on June 30 and the results are due out in the autumn. Which? is calling on consumers to give their views to Ofcom – see ‘Related links’, below, for how to do this. More than 3,500 people have already joined our kids’ food campaign and 277 people have used our letter template to email their views to Ofcom.

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