TV cheese ads for children must carry a health warning
CHEESE ads will have to carry a health warning to limit intake under new restrictions on advertising to children.
Television ads for cheese will have to carry a message warning that people shouldn't eat more than a certain amount per day under new Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) rules aimed at curbing children's exposure to junk-food advertising.
Ads for foods containing high levels of fat, salt and sugar are being banned from children's television, and will be restricted to 25pc of ad breaks during mainstream viewing times.
The detailed new restrictions were published yesterday and will come into force from September 2 on all Irish radio and TV stations as part of the bid to tackle childhood obesity.
Cheese was to be included in the list of foodstuffs covered by the children's ad ban, but it won a reprieve after intense lobbying by the food industry.
It argued that despite being high in fat, cheese contained valuable calcium and should not be put on a par with sweets, crisps and sugary soft drinks.
The BAI said it had accepted a Department of Health recommendation to permit ads for cheese to continue, but they would have to carry the following on-screen message: "Children should consume no more than 28g of cheese per day. This is the same as a matchbox-size piece of cheese, and low-fat is more suitable."
BAI chief executive Michael O'Keeffe denied it had buckled under pressure from the food industry and said it had taken the advice of health experts.
"We are satisfied the correct balance has been achieved and the rules will create an environment that will support the health of children," he said.
The BAI had resisted calls from health groups to extend the ban on junk-food advertising to all pre-watershed advertising as this would have had a very negative impact on advertising revenue and would have put Irish broadcasters at a disadvantage compared to UK-based stations which had no ban, he said.
The Irish Farmers' Association said the exemption of cheese from the overall junk-food ad ban was a "victory for common sense" and it had been fundamentally wrong to treat it as less healthy than diet cola.
The new Children's Commercial Communications Code also bans celebrity endorsements of unhealthy foodstuffs in ads targeted at youngsters and the use of health claims or promotional offers in them.
Advertisers targeting children with food ads will have to provide a signed certificate to broadcasters stating that they are not high in fat, salt and sugar, as defined under a Nutrient Profile Modelling system.