The food and drink industry has rounded on the Food Standards Agency, declaring that it would rather ban all advertising to children than use the watchdog's nutrient profiling model to decide what products are deemed healthy enough to promote.

A coalition between the food and advertising communities came together this week to launch an alternative approach to restricting advertising to children aged under-ten.

The initiative - called the Better Balance package - has been submitted in response to ­Ofcom's consultation on advertising to children.

The Food Standards Agency's submission to Ofcom specified that the agency believed any option under review should be based on its profiling model.

However, there has been widespread rejection of the technique by manufacturers.

The coalition described the agency's profiling as "not fit for purpose" and "scientifically flawed".

It added that it would wait to see what tool the European Food Safety Authority came up with over the next year.

A spokeswoman for the Food Standards Agency said that it did not support any options that would restrict the advertising of all foods, ­including fruit and vegetables, as this would conflict with the promotion of healthy eating.

She said: "The development background of the nutrient profiling model is clear. It has been scrutinised by nutrition academics, and is supported by the independent experts such as the Scientific Advisory Committee for Nutrition.

And Kraft Foods appeared to break ranks with the industry this week. It said it was in general support of the coalition - but has already come up with an alternative nutrient profiling model in a bid to enable manufacturers to continue to advertise certain products at primary schoolchildren.

The proposal is contained in its submission to Ofcom.

Meanwhile, the Food and Drink Federation has launched a 'Talk about Food' campaign to sign up families with children to gauge their views on 'today's food', from labelling to marketing.'Akin to child abuse'

The former chief executive of the Irish Food Safety Authority has described junk food advertising to youngsters as "akin to child abuse".

Dr Patrick Wall, now a professor at Dublin University's School of Public Health, called for a ban on such ads, which he said were a significant factor in Ireland's worsening childhood obesity. He added: "Are these ads innovative marketing or actually some form of sinister child abuse? Public information campaigns on healthy eating are not enough to deliver behavioural change - there needs to be legislative support.

"And there needs to be a ban on intense ads and celebrity endorsements."

Wall said a pre-9pm ban on such products would be a step in the right direction.