IFA is lobbying Government and opposition TDs to raise their awareness and seek their support for the exemption of cheese from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s (BAI) proposed ban on broadcast advertising of certain “less healthy” foods to children and teenagers.
IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Kevin Kiersey said: “Last October, IFA made a comprehensive technical and economic submission to the BAI as part of the first consultation process on the proposed review of the Children’s Commercial Communications Code. The National Dairy Council and a number of processors and other industry interests also made similar submissions.”
“However, the BAI are due to issue a second consultation document by the end of this month. It is our understanding that they are likely to persist with their recommendation to ban broadcast advertising of cheese to children under 18 on the same basis as “less healthy” foods high in salt, fat or sugar, while allowing unrestricted advertising of “more healthy”, but nutritionally valueless products such as diet cola,” he said.
“It makes sense to regulate the marketing and advertising of genuinely less healthy foods which make little nutritional contribution such as crisps, confectionary and sugary drinks in the context of the significant increase in the incidence obesity in children,” Mr Kiersey said.
“However, while overweight and obesity among children and teenagers has almost doubled since 1990, the consumption of cheese by this group has remained static. Clearly, cheese consumption by children is not a contributory factor to the prevalence of overweight and obesity,” he said.
“Not only is cheese not a ‘less healthy’ food, it is actually proven to make a very significant nutritional contribution to children’s and teenager’s diets as a major source of calcium and other nutrients. In fact, insufficient calcium intake is a public health concern among Irish children and teenagers: children should be encouraged to consume more, not less, dairy products,” he added.
“Finally, the Irish dairy industry is a vital national asset employing 34,000 and currently yielding exports worth €2.7b annually, with a specifically identified potential for 50% expansion over the next 10 years. What message are we sending to our export customers if we classify high quality nutritious cheese as a ‘less healthy’ food to be avoided on our home market?” he concluded.