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Committee criticisms proposed changes to cheese ads aimed at children

Andrew Doyle TD noted the concern among farmers and the agri-food sector over the “targeting of cheese” in proposed by the BAI.

Image: Dvortygirl via Creative Commons/Flickr

AN OIREACHTAS COMMITTEE has voiced its support for the National Dairy Council’s stance over recent calls to change the way cheese products are advertised during children’s television programming.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has recently advocated a change in the way foods which are high in fat, salt or sugar are advertised between TV shows watched at young people.

The BAI said that Ireland should introduce an advertising code based on Britain’s Nutrient Profiling Model, under which the advertising of cheese to children under the age of 18 would be banned – as it it would be classified as a ‘less healthy food’.

However, the National Dairy Council (NDC) strongly rejected proposals to reclassify cheese in such a way, with chief executive Zoë Kavanagh saying it would cause confusion about a significant “reputational damage” to a food group which is an important part of the country’s economy.

Chairman of the Oireachtas Joint Committee Andrew Doyle TD said that it supported the objection of the NDC and acknowledged the “serious concerns among farmers and the wider agri-food sector of the targeting of cheese in these draft codes”.

“While childhood obesity has been increasing, cheese intake has flatlined, indicating no correlation between cheese consumption and obesity levels,” Doyle insisted. “The Committee unanimously takes on board the NDC’s compelling evidence that insufficient calcium intake amongst Irish children is a public health nutrition concern.”

He said the Committee would make a “forceful and common sense contribution” to the BAI consultation by submitting a report highlighting its objection how the product has been classified in the draft advertising codes in the document.

A copy is also due to be forwarded to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Read: Dairy Council hits out at cheese ads restriction

Read: Poll: Should advertising cheddar cheese to children be restricted?

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