'Healthy' cheeses escape ad ban
Published 06/06/2012 | 05:00
MORE of these cheese ads please -- cheese strings, triangles, and brie are all healthy enough to market at children.
That's the view of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), which has proposed a compromise to controversial plans to ban advertising cheese to children.
It says cheese slices, cheddar, parmesan, edam, gouda and feta cheese should all be on the banned list before the 9pm watershed because they contain unhealthy levels of fat and/or salt.
However cheese strings, light cheese triangles, brie and low-fat cheddar get the green light because they're high in calcium and relatively low in saturated fat and salt.
The FSAI said it's important that children get enough calcium, and while low-fat milk and yoghurt were the best sources, kids couldn't always consume those in sufficient quantities, whereas certain types of cheese could be part of a healthy diet.
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland recently proposed severe restrictions on TV advertising of foods high in fat, sugar and salt in a bid to cut worrying levels of childhood obesity.
But the FSAI said in its latest newsletter that adopting an Irish version of the UK nutritional model used to decide which types of food should be banned would benefit consumers across the board as it would encourage manufacturers to make healthier cheese.
"A trend in reformulation of calcium-rich cheese and cheese products towards lower fat and salt content would benefit the entire population of Ireland and is consistent with the aims of the FSAI fat reduction programme for food."
However, the National Dairy Council (NDC) took a different view, arguing that cheese should be exempted from the advertising restrictions altogether, at least until an independent review was carried out.
In a submission published yesterday, it argued that the UK nutritional profiling used to designate cheese as unhealthy was fundamentally flawed as it was based on people eating 10 times as much cheese as was the norm among Irish children.
It was already a real concern that children didn't get enough calcium, the NDC said.
It also argued that because Ireland exports 90pc of the cheese it produces, the country would suffer reputational issues. The economic consequences of that would be far wider than the loss of advertising revenues, it said, as the Irish dairy industry employs 34,000 people and had exports worth €2.66bn last year.