Suppliers will next week be a step closer to discovering whether a ban on advertising to children is on the cards.
On Tuesday, the board of the Food Standards Agency meets to make its recommendations to government on the way foods are promoted to children.
It follows a three-month consultation period on its Action Plan on Food Promotions and Children’s Diets, during which it received 80 responses.
The plan says action is justified to address the imbalance in TV advertising of food to children. It calls for the use of celebrities to help redress this imbalance by promoting healthier food choices.
It also covers advice and guidelines for industry on reducing amounts of fat, salt and sugar in products specifically aimed at children and guidelines on the labelling of these products to enable consumers to identify healthier options more easily.
“Working with industry is the only way forward,” said FSA deputy chair Julia Unwin, speaking at the Food and Beverage 2004 conference this week. “We need to find more positive ways of telling people what they can do and start making healthy the easy choice.
“We are looking at how to rebalance food promotion for products such as fizzy drinks and how to influence the way children learn about food.”
Secretary of state for culture, media and sport Tessa Jowell will make a statement on food promotion later this summer, based on the recommendations from the FSA as well as those of Ofcom which is examining the broadcasting code on advertising to children. Jowell has indicated her thinking is focused on voluntary action.