Leading UK health and education groups, including National Union of Teachers, National Heart Forum, Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the Children's Food Campaign have written to Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw criticising the government's arrangements for a consultation on product placement, which was announced last week.
Children's Food Campaign
The eight-week consultation period, which includes the Christmas period, breaches the government's own Code of Practice on Consultation, which states that consultation should normally be a minimum of 12 weeks long, and that a longer consultation period should be considered when it takes place over holiday periods.
Jackie Schneider, coordinator of the Children's Food Campaign, which is leading a coalition of groups opposing product placement, said: “Why is the government failing to abide by its own guidelines? Is it because they want to rush the consultation over the festive season to try and get this through on the quiet? Maybe it's because they know that nine out of ten of adults are against children being influenced by product placement. Given how sneaky a form of marketing product placement is, maybe we shouldn't be surprised that the consultation is being sneaked through too.
“We know that in the US, Coca-Cola is the biggest user of product placement. Product placement in the UK will lead to our children being exposed to even more junk food marketing. Children's charities, parents' organisations, doctors, alcohol concern groups and members of the public need a proper opportunity to voice their concerns about the proposed changes.”
The health and education groups are calling on Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw to extend the consultation for an additional six weeks to allow the public sufficient time to respond properly to the consultation.
For further information please contact the Children's Food Campaign
1. The letter is signed by:
2. The Children's Food Campaign works to improve children's health and well-being through better food - and food teaching - in schools, and protecting children from junk food marketing. We are supported by over 300 national and local organisations and 12,000 members of the public. The Children's Food Campaign is coordinated by Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming and is funded by the British Heart Foundation. For more details see http://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/
3. The Children's Food Campaign coordinates the “Protect children from product placement” campaign. More information about the campaign and how to respond to the consultation are available at http://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/product_placement
4. Full details of the consultation are available at http://www.dcms.gov.uk/
5. The Government's Code of Practice on Consultations is available at http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file47158.pdf
6. A recent survey of 1,349 UK adults by Redshift Research found that 91%, do not think it is right to influence children with product placement. See http://www.redshiftresearch.co.uk/index.aspx?p=319
7. In the US, Coca-Cola is the company paying for the most instances of product placement, with 2,990 instances in the first six months of 2008, more than 30% of all placements by the ten top brands. Link to PDF
8. The text of the letter is as follows:
Children's Food Campaign: Better food and food teaching for children in schools, and protection of children from junk food marketing are the aims of Sustain's high-profile Children's Food Campaign. We also want clear food labelling that can be understood by everyone, including children.
Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.
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