BAI’s draft code gets frosty reception from food industry

Zoe Kavanagh, chief executive, The National Dairy Council, said the proposals in the draft code could have the potential to damage dairy exports if implemented
Zoe Kavanagh, chief executive, The National Dairy Council, said the proposals in the draft code could have the potential to damage dairy exports if implemented

The NDC believes the importance of the dairy sector to the Irish economy has not been fully acknowledged in the BAI's new draft code on children's commercials



13 April 2012

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The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has received significant backlash from The National Dairy Council (NDC) and Food and Drink Industry Ireland (FDII) over its new Draft Children’s Commercial Communications Code released on 30 March.

The draft code proposes that children’s commercials for products that are high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS), including cheese, must be restricted. 
The BAI proposes limiting HFSS advertising so that no more than one in four advertisements for HFSS products will be permitted during a day.
It also suggests that advertisements for HFSS products should not include celebrities, sports stars, personalities from cinema releases and should not contain health claims or include promotional offers. 
The BAI recommended the adoption of the ‘nutrient profiling model’ which is a tool developed for use by the broadcast media to assess the nutritional profile of food and non-alcoholic drink.
However FDII said it was very disappointed with the BAI’s draft code because it was based on ‘flawed science’ and was a threat to Ireland’s international reputation as a food island.
FDII director Paul Kelly said that the nutrition model in the code is simply copy and pasted from the UK, without any reference to Irish research on the subject. 
“The UK system is unscientific, out-of-date and based on the concept of a 100g measure rather than on the actual amount people eat. This means that foods such as dairy and cereal products, which are vitally important to Irish children’s diets, are classified as unhealthy.” 
The National Dairy Council believes that the importance of cheese and the dairy sector to the Irish economy was not fully acknowledged in the draft code, particularly in light of targets and expectations set out in Food Harvest 2020.  
Zoe Kavanagh, chief executive, The National Dairy Council, said the message such proposals sends to the country’s export markets must also be considered. “Restricting the advertising of cheese as proposed by the BAI creates the potential for major reputational issues to an important food group, with the potential to damage an important contributor to the Irish economy and to Irish jobs, when there is no justified nutritional evidence for doing so.”
A Draft General Commercial Communications Code was also launched on 30 March. Both codes were formed by responses received to the BAI’s first stage of consultation, undertaken between August and October 2011 and by the report of an expert working group and the provisions of the Broadcasting Act 2009.
Some 226 submissions were received from members of the public, the broadcasting sector, politicians, NGOs, groups representing the food and drink production sector; the health sector and the diet and nutrition sector.
Chairperson of the BAI, Bob Collins, said: “Some respondents to our initial consultation wanted a complete ban on certain foods until 9pm in the evening; while others wanted exemptions to be applied to a range of foods that were considered to be of high economic importance to certain sectors of the economy.
“In putting forward the draft codes, the BAI is not telling people what to eat, but is trying to support the creation of an environment in which more healthy food choices can be made,” he said.
“We are putting the draft codes out to public consultation over the next eight weeks so that all interested members of the public – including those from the health sector; food production industry, broadcasters and advertisers – can offer their view on the BAI’s proposals,” said Mr. Collins.
Responses to the consultation should be submitted by 31 May, 2012 to A copy of the draft code is available at


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