20 May 2010

Concern at monitoring of children's food ad code

5:44 pm on 20 May 2010

A professor of nutrition says she is worried about how new regulations covering the advertising of food to children will be monitored.

The Children's Code for Advertising Food was issued by the Advertising Standards Authority on Wednesday, following a year-long review by public, industry and government representatives.

Professor Elaine Rush, from the Auckland University of Technology, says the regulations are extensive but involve a complaints system that could be too difficult for people use.

She says she would like to see clear and measurable criteria for advertising, in order to help with monitoring.

The Association of New Zealand Advertisers says self-regulation works well and the complaints process is simple. Chief executive Jeremy Irwin says no advertiser would want to breach the code because it would be costly to withdraw adverts if a complaint was upheld.

Just PR spin, says Kedgley

The code has found no favour with Green Party food spokesperson Sue Kedgley, who says that in effect it's a public relations spin, full of fine-sounding principles but ultimately still allowing advertisers to target children with unhealthy food.

The only responsible thing to do, she says, is ban all advertisments for unhealthy food.

The advertisers' association says, however, that such a ban is impractical and that the new code encourages social responsibility.

The Advertising Standards Authority says it will hold a seminar to give advertisers and agencies practical advice on how to stick to the code.