Fears are growing that food and drink companies will be racing against time to comply with new codes on non-broadcast media targeting children.
In the original timeline, the Food and Drink Advertising and Promotion Forum, which has been formed to look at if and how self-regulatory codes for non-broadcast media should be beefed up, should be consulting on draft codes by now.
The plan is for industry to adopt a code of conduct by early next year.
However, food and drink companies are angered by the lack of information from the DH and the forum, which includes representatives from industry and advertising bodies as well as government and non-governmental bodies, and held its inaugural meeting last month.
One representative of a global manufacturer said it left little time to develop and execute acceptable promotional strategies before government decided whether to introduce legislation early in 2007.
The planned codes are in addition to work by Ofcom on broadcast media. They will cover three main areas: non-broadcast such as direct mail, print and on-pack promotions; in-store marketing such as loyalty schemes, bogofs and free samples; and other promotional activities, including characters, sponsorship and vending.
A DH spokeswoman said the forum would be advising on what changes should be made.
But she conceded that there would be little to report at its next meeting, on September 8. “As to the likelihood of anything moving on substantially by then, the answer is no,” she said.
The Advertising Association and ISBA are working on the categorisation of non-broadcast areas and would only say that this work was progressing.
Minutes from the forum’s first meeting show the DH had planned to award contracts for assessment and monitoring work this month.
But the deadline for responses to tender documents to develop success criteria and monitor food activity aimed at children between 2004 and 2007 has been extended to Friday, September 2.
The successful contractor will deliver a quarterly report to the DH and FSA of all activities in each area. The first report will be due in October. The contractor will also deliver an annual report.
The forum was established to take forward the commitments to develop a comprehensive strategy to further restrict the promotion to children of food high in fat, salt and sugar after the publication of the Choosing Health White Paper.
Siân Harrington