Britain’s surreal "junk food" advertising ban

[Hat Tip: Tim Worstall]

Last year, the government decided to introduce new rules to ban the advertising of “junk food” to children. This of course requires the government to decide what is and is not junk food, and apparently this has now been done. The Telegraph provides examples of what can and cannot be advertised to children:

Marmite, Flora Lite, half-fat cheddar cheese, Dairylea triangles, bran flakes, camembert, sugar-coated puffed wheat, instant hot oat cereal, Jaffa cakes, reduced calorie mayonnaise, multi-grain hoop cereal, half-fat creme fraiche, takeaway chicken nuggets, potato waffles, Greek yoghurt (sheep), ham, sausages, bacon rashers, low-fat spreads, peanuts, cashew nuts, pistachio nuts, peanut butter, raisins, sultanas, currants, low-fat potato crisps, olive oil, butter, pizza, hamburgers, tomato ketchup, chocolate, brown sauce, cola, lemonade

Here’s what can be advertised to children:

Plain fromage frais, fish fingers, lasagne ready meals, currant buns, malt loaf, frozen roast potatoes, chicken curry with rice ready meal, frozen oven chips, sliced white bread, cottage cheese, supermarket frozen chicken nuggets, milk, brazil nuts, canned strawberries in
syrup, diet cola, chocolate-flavoured milk.

Apparently, the regulations are based on how much fat, sugar or salt there is in 100g of the product and take no account of likely portion sizes. Take Marmite as an example. In a 4g serving (which would be about typical for spreading on toast) you’d only get 0.5g of salt (Recommended Daily Allowance[RDA]: 6g).

The trouble is that in 100g of Marmite you’ll get 11g of salt, well over the RDA, hence the “junk food” status. However, no one in their right mind would ever eat that much Marmite in one serving (half of one of the new squeezy containers, or 80% of one of the traditional small glass jars), let alone do so on a regular basis!

Furthermore, the following companies (though not necessarily the products they sell) can be advertised to their brands to children:

McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Burger King, Cadbury’s, Kellogg’s

I.e. the main pushers of junk food are allowed to carry on advertising their restaurants to kids, whilst individual products can be advertised (or not) on a ridiculous basis that equates eating 100g of Marmite with eating 100g of pizza when Marmite simply is not eaten in such large portions, and pizza is often eaten in bigger portions.

What utter nonsense.

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