Bai Must Exempt Cheese by Using Irish Data and Independent Experts

IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Kevin Kiersey said while IFA supported the regulation of advertising of less healthy foods high in fat, salt or sugar to children in the light of obesity and other health concerns, the BAI had lost credibility in using blatantly biased experts and refusing to exempt cheese from the suggested advertising restrictions.

Ahead of tomorrow’s deadline for Stage 2 consultation on the Children’s Advertising Code, Mr Kiersey called for a second review of Stage 1 submissions by a truly independent panel of experts basing their assessments on the high quality Irish nutritional data available through the Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance (IUNA).

“The BAI’s experts have failed to show any contribution by cheese to obesity in Irish children – because while the incidence of obesity in children and teenagers has almost doubled in the last 20 years, facts show that their consumption of cheese over the same period has remained static, and well below recommended daily amounts,” Mr Kiersey said.

He said, “The BAI has further failed to recognise the very real contribution which cheese can make to the intake of certain nutrients such as calcium, which are lacking from the diets of the majority of Irish children.”

“Finally, and most worryingly for its credibility and independence, the BAI has relied on some of the authors of the controversial UK-based nutrient profiling model – discredited by many experts as being incomplete and uninformed by Irish data –  to carry out the Stage 1 review. Their report shows a much greater effort in defending the model than in seeking to remedy its lack of relevance to the actual nutritional profile of Irish children’s diets, despite the availability of such information from IUNA,” he said.

“The BAI must go back to the drawing board, employ genuinely independent experts to review the Stage 1 and Stage 2 submissions, and recognise the objective justification for the exemption of cheese on nutritional grounds from the advertising restrictions recommended for ‘less healthy’ foods high in salt, sugar or fat,” he concluded.

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