Australian food and beverage industry vows to advertise healthy choices to kids

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 24th October 2008

Australian food and beverage manufacturers have responded to community concerns regarding some food advertising during children programming by developing the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative.

Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) Chief Executive Kate Carnell will today outline the food and beverage industry’s response to community concerns about advertising practices in the AFGC’s submission to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) on its revised Children’s Television Standards.

Ms Carnell said that the AFGC supported the majority of ACMA’s findings, particularly its preliminary views in relation to food and beverage advertising. “Despite ACMA’s findings, industry is still keen to address community concerns regarding advertising to children,” she suggested. “The food manufacturing sector believes that the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative is the mechanism best placed to address these concerns.”

“Our aim in developing the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative is to provide a framework for food and beverage companies to promote healthy dietary choices and lifestyles to Australian children,” Ms Carnell added.

The initiative is set to cover advertising on free to air television, pay television, the internet, the use of licensed characters, and publications aimed at children.

“This initiative requires companies to abide by a set of core principles that govern how they advertise during designated children’s programming, or where the audience is predominantly made up of primary school aged children,” Ms Carnell said. “The aim of the initiative is to ensure that only healthy foods and beverages are advertised during television shows predominantly watched by primary school aged children.”

“It will be the community’s expectation that the scheme will be overseen by an independent arbitrator, to whom perceived breaches can be reported and who can take action to rectify violations; this is also industry’s view.”

Ms Carnell reported that participating companies will develop and publish company action plans that show how they plan to comply with the initiative’s principles. The initiative will also be underpinned by a transparent compliance program and a public complaints mechanism. Companies will be required to list their company action plans on a public register.

“The Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative is supported by major food and beverage manufacturers, AANA and other industry groups. These companies represent the majority of food and beverage manufacturing in Australia,” Ms Carnell advised.

“We don’t underestimate the levels of genuine community concern about childhood obesity and diet, clearly the level of obesity and micronutrient deficiency levels in children is still too high.””Ultimately, industry is committed to working closely with both governments and the community to ensure that we get the best possible health outcomes for our children,” Ms Carnell concluded. “It is industry’s position that the best way to achieve this is to first allay community concerns regarding advertising. The introduction of the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative is tangible result of industry’s efforts to do this.”