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Industry to address community concerns about inappropriate advertising to kids.



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The Australian food and grocery sector employs more than 200,000 people, largely in country and rural areas, and contributes 2.5% to GDP.

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MEDIA RELEASE

Embargoed until 4AM Friday 24 October 2008

Industry to Address Community Concerns about Inappropriate Advertising to Kids

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 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 (and the need for no further government regulation in this area).

‘Despite ACMA’s findings, industry is still keen to address community concerns regarding advertising to children.

‘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 said.

Ms Carnell stated that this initiative covers 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.

‘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 said.

Ms Carnell said 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 Australian food and grocery sector employs more than 200,000 people, largely in country and rural areas, and contributes 2.5% to GDP.

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‘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 said.

Ms Carnell said that the food sector has a long history of working with a complex network of stakeholders to achieve the best outcomes for the community.

‘Just recently, industry worked with the federal government to present the findings of the joint industry government funded study, the National Children’s Diet and Physical Activity Survey,’ Ms Carnell said.

Ms Carnell said that the survey, the most comprehensive of its kind since 1995, showed that most children were not eating according to dietary guidelines; it also found that children weren’t necessarily eating too much food; they were not eating enough of the right foods, with 82 per cent of 14 - 16 year old girls having a calcium deficiency.

‘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.

‘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,’ Ms Carnell.

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For Media enquiries or to arrange an interview please contact Rhys Turner at the AFGC on 0437 379 818 or 02 6273 1466.