Inaction on code of practice for junk food ads criticised

By June Shannon Policy News   |   14th Aug 2018

Today (Tuesday 14 August 2018) marks six months to the day that the Department of Health launched its voluntary Code of Practice for the advertising and marketing of junk food and neither the implementation guidelines nor the promised independent monitoring body have been established.

Launched on 14 February last, the purpose of the code was to ensure that foods high in fat, salt and sugar as well as non-alcoholic drinks were marketed in a responsible manner.

In particular the code seeks to ensure that children are not exposed to inappropriate junk food marketing, advertising or sponsorship and that healthier food choices are actively promoted.

The Irish Heart Foundation has described the delay in implementing the code as a “continued failure to tackle the relentless targeting of young people by junk brands on digital media which is helping to fuel Ireland’s child obesity crisis.”

“We need to end this voluntary code charade now in favour of a real commitment to our children’s future health,"

Mr Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy, Irish Heart Foundation

Head of Advocacy at the Irish Heart Foundation Mr Chris Macey said it “beggared belief” that six months to the day after the launch of the Department of Health’s voluntary code the guidelines for its implementation had not been issued and its much-vaunted independent monitoring body had still not been established.

“The evidence that junk brand marketing plays a causal role in child obesity is unequivocal. And State funded research estimates that 85,000 children of today’s children on the island of Ireland will die prematurely due to overweight and obesity. Any hope of changing their future is rapidly receding, so it’s hard to imagine an acceptable explanation for such a long delay,” Mr Macey stated.

He added that it was now also almost three years since the group that established the code held its first meeting.

“The Irish Heart Foundation said when this code was launched that it was doomed to failure and that it’s likely to do more harm than good by delaying real progress in limiting children’s exposure to junk food marketing. And that’s exactly what’s happening.

“We need to end this voluntary code charade now in favour of a real commitment to our children’s future health with uncompromising mandatory regulation to prevent junk food marketing to under 16s with stiff financial penalties for those who break the rules,” Mr Macey stated.

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