Following representations from the Irish Farmer’s Association and other bodies, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has today announced that the new rules that will govern the HFSS food and drink advertisement to children will not apply to cheese. IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman has strongly welcomed today’s announcement.
“Cheese provides a concentrated source of calcium – an element lacking from many children’s and teenagers’ diets – and many other valuable nutrients. The value of dairy and cheese in children’s diets is well documented, and both the FSAI and the Department of Health recommend 3 to 5 portions of dairy products a day for children and teenagers. Low or full fat cheese, in moderate portion sizes, must be part of the options available to parents and kids as part of a balanced diet,” he said.
“The BAI’s suggestion that cheese should be treated the same way for advertising purposes as junk foods such as confectionary, crisps or sugary soft drinks, and that it is somehow less healthy than diet cola, was based on poor methodology and flawed analyses, and was fundamentally wrong. We outlined in detail our objections to the BAI’s proposed approach in our October 2011 submission on this topic,” Mr Kiersey said.
“Recent studies have clearly shown that the prevalence of obesity among the under 18 has increased in the last 15 years, but that cheese consumption in this age group has remained stable and is in fact substantially less than the recommended daily portion of 28 grammes. There is no link between the incidence of overweight in Irish children and cheese consumption, and therefore no justification for the demonization of cheese by the BAI,” Mr Kiersey said.
“In the Food Harvest 2020 report, Government has set out a target of 50% growth for the dairy sector in the next 10 years, in order to grow domestic and most of all export earnings from the industry for the greater good of the Irish economy. A substantial part of this expansion will likely rely on developing new, greater value-added products, including cheeses. Indeed, a €1.5m investment in research and development has just been entered into by the Irish Dairy Board in co-operation with Teagasc for this very purpose,” he said.
“In this context, restricting the legitimate marketing activity of the industry would have been totally unacceptable, as well as unjustified, “he concluded