Old staples make food broadcast blacklist

Cheese, most breakfast cereals and fruit juices have all been included on a blacklist of foods under a draft code on advertising to children published by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

BAI came under sustained criticism last year when it mooted plans to ban cheese adverts before 9pm.

Unbowed, it published its draft code on advertising food to children yesterday and it included the dairy product among a number of HFSS (high in fat, salt and sugar) foods on which strict advertising guidelines should be placed.

Under the proposed BAI codes, Ireland will adopt Britain’s nutrient profiling model “without amendment” which classes foods as healthier and less healthy.

Under that model, points are awarded for “A nutrients” (energy, saturated fat, total sugar and sodium). Then, points are awarded for “C nutrients” (fruit, vegetables and nut content, fibre and protein). A final score is reached by subtracting the score for C nutrients from the score for A nutrients to give the final nutrient profile score. Food scoring four or more points and drinks scoring one or more points are classified as less healthy and are subject to advertising restrictions.

Under BAI’s draft code, ads for those foods and drinks that are classed HFSS will not:

* Be permitted in children’s programmes as defined by the code;

* Include celebrities or sports stars;

* Include television programme characters;

* Include licensed characters such as characters and personalities from cinema releases;

* Contain health or nutrition claims;

* Include promotional offers.

The BAI code also proposes that no more than 25% of sold advertising time and only one in four adverts for HFSS products and services will be permissible across the broadcasting day.

BAI said it would not bow to industry pressure to exempt cheese.

“There were no nutritional grounds for excluding cheese from the model,” it said. “Arguments made by respondents to the consultation on the basis of economic impact and cultural differences were not considered sufficient to warrant amending the model to permit cheese products to be excluded from the application of the model.”

It said it had taken into account the fact that the model, as developed, already incorporates beneficial nutrients provided by dairy products, including calcium.

“In practice, the model permits the advertisements of a variety of dairy products, including some low-fat cheeses, such as cottage cheese,” it said.

The draft code is available at: www.bai.ie. It is open for public consultation over the next eight weeks so interested stakeholders can offer their views.

Healthier and less healthy

Under the nutrient profiling model, the following food and drinks are examples of those that would be classified as healthier:

Wholemeal and white bread

Muesli and wheat biscuit cereal with no added sugar

Fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables

Fresh and frozen unprocessed meat and fish

Most unsalted nuts

Some yoghurts and yoghurt drinks

Takeaway salads with no dressing or croutons

Most brands of baked beans

Fish fingers

Some brands of oven-baked chips

Unsweetened fruit juice

Diet cola

Skimmed,semi-skimmed and whole milk

The following are examples of those that would be classified as less healthy, they include HFSS (high in fat, sugar and salt) foods:

Potato crisps, including low fat

Cheddar cheese, half and full fat

Most breakfast cereals

Biscuits and cakes


French fries


Most pizzas

Sweetened milkshakes, fruit juices

Cola and other carbonated sweetened drinks

Most sausages and burgers

Butter and margarine


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