2009 archive

December 2009

Welcome to the December Children’s Food Campaign update.  We are devoting this whole update on our campaign to stop product placement because the clock is ticking!

Firstly, the good news is that there has been a magnificent response. 700 of you have already sent a message to the government. Thank you. If you have not yet done it please could you do it now? Simply click on https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/action/  and you can either send a pre written response or compose your own. It only takes a couple of minutes.

The more responses we get the greater chance we have of stopping product placement in its tracks.

High profile supporters

Bestselling author and columnist Chris Cleave has highlighted the horrors of product placement in his recent column in the Guardian. You can read it here. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/nov/28/chris-cleave-product-placement

 James Henry writer of the cult channel 4 show “Green Wing” is also supporting our campaign. You can read his blog where he describes the pressures product placement will put on writers here. http://jamesandthebluecat.blogspot.com/2009/11/product-placement-more-ways-to-sell.html

Campaigning activities

The Slow Food Market in London kindly allowed us to campaign at their recent market at the South bank. We are planning to go back at their next market on 19 -22 December. Please let us know if you would like to join us.

Christine is off to Exeter to campaign on Friday 4 December. This is the home of Ben Bradshaw, the culture secretary who is keen to bring in product placement. If you live locally please come and join us in Bedford Square, just off the the High street, between 12 .00 and 2.00pm.   For more information, contact Christine on 07870 577934 or christine@sustainweb.org.  If you can’t make this please show your support by sending a message to Ben Bradshaw as your local MP .Email  bradshawb@parliament.uk

Sneaking it through

Our job has been made much harder by the way the government have chosen to run the consultation. They announced the consultation would run from 9 Jan 2009 to 8 Jan 2010 This breaches Governments own code of practice on consultation guidelines 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  
Leading UK health and education groups, including National Union of Teachers, National Heart Forum, Association of Teachers and Lecturers have joined with us to write to Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw criticising these arrangements. Marketing Magazine have covered this here. http://www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/channel/Television/article/967501/Lobbyists-slam-product-placement-consultation/

We are continuing to fight this and will keep you updated.

Finally, if you have already replied to the consultation please help us by asking everyone you know to do the same. It is so important that we win this fight. Once the genie is out of the bottle it will be almost impossible to get it back in. We know that the overwhelming majority of the public do not want product placement to affect children. Please send a letter to the consultation to make sure that view prevails.



October 2009

Product placement update

Frustratingly, we are still waiting to hear when the consultation on whether product placement should be allowed on UK-made TV programmes will begin.

On 16 September Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw announced “I want to change our approach on product placement. We’ll consult on this shortly and would hope to have any change in place in the New Year.”  We have been unable find out from the Department of Culture Media and Sport when the consultation will be published, but are expecting it any day now!

We have found a number of organisations who all share our concerns about product placement and who are keen to join us in campaigning against it. We have had messages of support for our position from Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, The Viewers and Listeners Association, The Royal College of Physicians, British Society of Gastroenterology, Kirklees Council and the UK Ecoli Supporters Group to name a few.

We will be greeting the launch of the consultation with a strong message that we do not want product placement on UK programmes, and have prepared a web page which will allow you to respond to the consultation online.  We will be appealing to all our supporters to do this and to help us spread it widely by forwarding the links to friends and colleagues.

In addition we are planning a number of high street activities to encourage members of the public to respond. Please let us know if you would like to join us in some high profile public campaigning.

Although we are promised that product placement will not be allowed on children’s TV we know that 71% of children’s viewing takes place outside of children’s programming.  Family dramas and popular entertainment shows could be used to promote junk foods and sugary drinks if the proposals go ahead. In the last review only a year ago, product placement was decisively rejected, with then-Culture Secretary Andy Burnham expressing deep concern about the blurring of the distinction between content and advertising.  Please help us persuade the government that Andy Burnham got it right and the new policy is wrong!

New report: Fit Choice

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has just published their report “Fit Choice” which highlights the unhealthy foods provided for children at leisure centres.

The report, prepared by the Food Commission, reveals how places where children go to have fun and get active - including leisure centres, bowling alleys, ice skating rinks and park cafes - undermine the fight against childhood obesity by offering kids a barrage of unhealthy products through vending machines and junk food meal deals.

Key findings from A Fit Choice include:

  • Vending machines dominate venues – every vending machine found at the venues visited stocked products loaded with fats, salts and sugars which cannot be advertised on children’s TV or sold in school vending machines.
  • Junk food meal deals monopolise children’s menus – fresh fruit was displayed at less than half of the venues visited and children’s meal deals were awash with fried food options including chips, nuggets, sausages and burgers all of which have been significantly restricted in schools.
  • A lack of nutritional information – nutritional information was displayed at just two of the venues visited, severely limiting kid’s and parent’s ability to assess the nutritional values of the products they are buying.

We support the BHF’s calls for public and private sector providers to lead the way in ensuring healthy food options are available and easily identifiable, and for the School Food Trust criteria for vending machines to be adopted by leisure venues. You can download a copy of the report from the BHF

Food growing in schools

We have had a lot of support for a campaign to get food growing taking place in every school.

We are holding a roundtable meeting on 10 November in London to see how we can take this further. If you would like to come along to this meeting please email us: jackie@sustainweb.org.

Drinking water in parks

Thank you so much to all those who took part in our survey.  We are currently in the process of writing up the findings into a report which will be available soon.  We have had a lot of interest in this issue, and were interviewed by Radio 4 for their You and Yours programme which was aired on Monday.  If you didn’t hear it and would like to, you can listen to it online until next Monday (2 November) at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/b006qps9/Monday/console - the piece is about 20 minutes into the programme

Children’s Food Campaign on Dispatches

Richard Watts Campaigns Director for the Children’s Food Campaign at Sustain was interviewed about children’s breakfast cereals on Channel 4's Disp[atches programme, including details from our headline-grabbing Through the Back Door report released earlier this year, by Dispatches programme which aired this week on Channel 4. You can see some clips at http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/episode-guide/series-6/episode-5.

Children’s Food Campaign Twitter

Finally, the Children’s Food Campaign is now on Twitter as Childrensfood. Please find us so we can follow you: http://twitter.com/Childrensfood.

September 2009

Government u-turn on product placement

The Children’s Food Campaign was alarmed by the recent announcement by Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Ben Bradshaw, that he wants to lift the ban on product placement on British-made TV programmes.  If allowed, this could result in junk food brands appearing regularly in programmes popular with children, such as Britain’s Got Talent and Coronation Street.

It is less than a year since we welcomed a statement by previous Secretary of State, Andy Burnham, that product placement should not be allowed in the UK.  But now the Government has announced another consultation on this issue, with a view to product placement being allowed from early 2010.

We want to send a strong message that this kind of covert advertising is not welcome in British TV programmes, and will be in touch soon with details about the consultation and how you can make your objections known.

School food hits the headlines

School meals were in the news earlier this month as secondary school pupils across the country headed back to school for meals that now meet new nutritional standards, ensuring that they get a healthy lunch.

At the same time, primary school pupils in Durham and the London Borough of Newham now have free meals, while more pupils in Wolverhampton will be eligible for free lunches under a new government pilot scheme which is investigating the benefits of free school meals.  Primary school pupils in the London Borough of Islington already get free meals thanks to support from their local council.

The Children’s Food Campaign welcomed these initiatives, but called for more investment in school facilities so that all pupils have the opportunity to enjoy a delicious and healthy midday meal freshly prepared on site. 

Underage kids

The Children’s Food Campaign is researching the ways in which junk food marketers are targeting children with promotions purported to be aimed at adults, and we need your help!

Have you seen any unhealthy food promotions which seem to appeal to children yet are open to “over 16s only”, such as offers of free mobile phone credit, or online games?  Do you know children that have been taken in by promotions like this?  If so, we’d like to hear from you.  Please contact Jackie Schneider on 0203 5596 777 or Jackie@sustainweb.org

Pesticides at school?

Research is increasingly linking pesticide exposure to health effects such as nerve damage, cancer and reproductive disorders.  But at the moment we don’t know whether children are being exposed to pesticides in schools or school grounds.  As part of the Sick of Pesticides Campaign, the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is running a survey to find out what pesticides may be being used in schools or present in school food and also to see what schools may already be doing to reduce the risk.

An information leaflet is available, explaining why this issue is important, and you can complete their online survey or download copies of the survey to take into your school(s).  The forms and leaflets can be sent to you or downloaded for printing out at http://www.pesticidescancer.eu/spip.php?rubrique2.  You can also fill in the survey on-line at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=FQTKv4Zp_2bO5GXTS6EhKXhQ_3d_3d.  Please email Vicki@env-health.org if you need more help.

Last chance: get involved in our national survey of park drinking fountains

Our survey of drinking water provision in parks across the UK closes at the end of the month so it’s still not too late to let us know how your park rates.  If you’ve already completed our questionnaire, please let us know through Survey Monkey (http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=Dpwfer8Y9F8i_2bubUbCSRSg_3d_3d) or by posting it to the address on the questionnaire. 

If you haven’t started yet, it’s quick and easy to get involved.  Visit https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/waterinparks/ to download the survey questions, then visit your local park and then let us know what you found.

We’ve had a really positive response so far, but the more people who take part, the more detailed picture we will have when we pull all your contributions together to look at situation across the country.  We’ll be letting you know the results in future updates.

August 2009

Great support for our new drinking water campaign

Our new campaign for drinking water in all public parks received considerable attention when it was launched last mouth.  There was coverage on the BBC and Guardian websites and stories in many local papers.  Groups including Weight Concern, Friends of the Earth and Heart Research UK are publicly supporting the campaign and encouraging people to get involved. 

Lots of people have already completed the survey about the drinking water in their local parks.  However, there are still many areas of the country that we have no information about, so if you haven’t yet surveyed your local park, please visit https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/waterinparks to get started.

Drinking water in parks: get involved

If you’ve not yet got involved in the campaign, or would like to do more, it’s not too late.  Here’s how you can help:

City of London’s water fountain plans

The Children’s Food Campaign recently met with The City of London who were happy to share their plans for 50 drinking water fountains designed to refill plastic bottles. They have been motivated by the desire to reduce their carbon footprint after looking at the sheer number of plastic drinking water bottles that are discarded on a daily basis, partly due to the large numbers of tourists and workers that pass through the city. They have investigated many designs and think they have found one that is very difficult to vandalise and impossible to contaminate. We are looking forward to sharing our results with them when our survey closes at the end of September.

US obesity expert visits UK 

Kelly D. Brownell, US scientist, professor, and internationally renowned expert on obesity was recently in London.   The Children’s Food Campaign was able to hear him talk about his work on the impact of soft drink consumption on rising obesity rates at a seminar organised by the National Heart Forum.  His presentation on the case for and against introducing a tax on soft drinks is available at http://www.yaleruddcenter.org/resources/upload/docs/what/policy/SoftDrinkTaxWebinar7.30.09.pdf.

GMB’s healthy eating competition

Children’s Food Campaign supporter GMB Union recently ran a competition for primary and special need schools in Lancashire to coincide with their annual congress in Blackpool.  GMB is working closely with the Child Poverty Action Group to help children and their families.  The competition, which invited pupils to design a healthy school meals poster, was part of a campaign to increase living standards for children and to re-emphasise the organisation’s support for free school meals. 

Thirty-three schools entered the competition, including one special needs school.  First prize, of £5000 went to Wensley Fold CE Primary School in Blackburn who wanted to buy new equipment for their existing garden and to develop vegetable patches.  The £3000 second prize, went to Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Primary School in Blackpool for an outside dinning room with a shaded area, while Whitechapel Primary School in Preston took the £1000 third prize to buy an outdoor shelter for their playground.  The special needs school, Acorns School, was given a highly commended prize of two bikes for the older children along with some fruit trees. 

The winning classes from each of the schools came to annual congress and were presented with their prize and given a healthy lunch.  For more information, visit http://www.gmb.org.uk/Templates/Internal.asp?NodeID=98680.

Coming soon: food growing for every pupil

Later this year we hope to launch a campaign to ensure that every child gets the opportunity to experience practical food growing while at school.  Experience shows that food growing can be a great way for children to learn about where their food comes from, and encourage them to try new, healthy foods.  There are some great food growing initiatives happening in lots of schools already, but many children still miss out. 

We’d be really interested in hearing your views and ideas about this issue as we shape the campaign, so please get in touch, either by posting your comments on the Children’s Food Network, or emailing Christine@sustainweb.org.  If you’re not already a member of the Children’s Food Network, you can join at https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/network

Call for aspartame-sensitive people for new study

Finally, the Food Standards Agency is looking for people who have had bad reactions to aspartame to take part in a new study. For more information, see http://www.food.gov.uk/news/newsarchive/2009/jun/aspartame.  Please forward this information to anyone you think might be interested.

July 2009

Drinking water in parks

The school summer holidays will soon be upon us. That, coupled with the recent hot spell, has really got us here at the Children’s Food Campaign thinking about the lack of drinking water in our public parks.

We all know that water is the best thing to drink when we are thirsty: it is better for our bodies, our budgets and our planet. In contrast, health experts point to the increased consumption of sugary drinks by children and young people as a significant factor in rising obesity rates and dental decay.

Providing drinking water in parks would help children and young people quench their thirst without being tempted by sugary drinks and snacks. It is a simple, cost effective solution that could make a big difference.

We need your help to make it happen.

The first thing we need is to build up a picture of what is happening nationally. Over the next two months we are asking all our supporters to visit local parks in their area to complete a simple survey telling us what the situation is.

If your park has lots of fountains that are signposted and in a good state please take a photo for us so we can show others that it is possible. If, on the other hand, there is no working fountain we need you to email your local councillor in charge of parks asking them to consider installing drinking fountains. (We have a template letter if that helps.) Copy the replies to us so we can build up a picture nationally.

Finally, we need as many people as possible to take part so please forward this email to as many people as possible. It could be a great holiday project for any bored youngsters or regular dog walkers. Maybe local brownie or cub packs would like to take part. We have set up a group on the Children’s Food Network for you to post your ideas, comments and photos - to join, visit https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/network/.

In September we will collate all your responses and draw up a national campaign plan that will help us make a drinking fountain in every park a reality.

Visit https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/waterinparks/ now to get started.

Sometimes the scale of the problems facing us with children’s diets seem overwhelming. This is something practical we can do that we stand a good chance of achieving. Please support us by taking action, and together we can make a difference.


June 2009

Children’s Food Campaign leads children’s groups’ call for all children to be protected from junk food marketing

The Children’s Food Campaign was last week among a group of organisations representing the rights of all UK children to be protected from junk food marketing. We were joined by Children’s Food Campaign supporters The Children’s Society, NCB, Alliance for Childhood, Child Growth Foundation and British Association for Community Child Health.  Our letter to advertising regulators, the Committee on Advertising Practice (CAP), called for consistency in the standards which help to protect children from junk food marketing.

At the moment, rules enforced by government regulator protect all children up to the age of 16 from junk food advertising during children’s television programming.  But the voluntary standards covering other forms of marketing, including posters, cinemas and the internet, contain a loophole which means that some of the clauses only apply to children under the age of 12. 

The Children’s Food Campaign would like to see stronger rules to protect children from junk food marketing through any media, and the letter called on CAP to remove this loophole so that children are better protected by the existing voluntary code.  To read about how this could be done, see our Protecting children report, available at https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/publications

More evidence to support our campaign to protect children from junk food marketing

Over the past few weeks we’ve seen several new reports which support our calls for children to be better protected from junk food marketing.

Last month, researchers at the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia published new research.  It showed that over-eating, rather than lack of exercise, is almost entirely to blame for rising obesity levels in rich countries.  The story was covered in The Times, quoting Sustain, the organisation that coordinates the Children’s Food Campaign, and can be read at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article6250968.ece

On 22 June, the BBC reported that 40% of five-year-olds in the UK have tooth decay, indicating the extent of over consumption of sugar in young children.  You can read the story at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8112603.stm

And a new report from the School Food Trust has found that, while pupils studying for exams are likely to turn to unhealthy foods such as chocolate, biscuits and fizzy drinks, a healthy diet has a direct and positive impact on pupils’ ability to study.  Full details are available at http://www.schoolfoodtrust.org.uk/news_item.asp?NewsId=180


May 2009

Junk food for babies?

The Children's Food Campaign hit the headlines earlier this month after releasing the startling findings of its investigation into foods marketed for babies and young children. 

The survey exposed that Cow&Gate Baby Balance Bear Biscuits contained trans fats, that Heinz Farley's Original Rusks contain more sugar per 100g than McVities Dark Chocolate Digestive Biscuits, and Cow&Gate Berry Bear Biscuits contain more saturated fat per 100g than a McDonalds Quarter Pounder with Cheese.

Since the publication of our findings, Cow&Gate have announced that they are discontinuing the Bear Biscuits, along with other products in the same range, although at the time of writing they continue to be available as stocks are run down.  The Children's Food Campaign welcomes this move, but is concerned that the company ever allowed trans fats in their baby products in the first place.

As similar concerns have been raised in the past and fallen on deaf ears, the Children's Food Campaign is calling on the government to obtain a commitment from companies to reformulate these products, ensure that they are clearly labelled and do not carry health claims unless they are genuinely healthy.

The full report is available to download from our website at https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/publications/

Two Angry Moms

Thanks to all who came along to the UK premiere of Two Angry Moms, an inspiring film made by two American mothers documenting their struggle to improve the food in schools across the US. 

The successful event was attended by film maker and "angry mom" Amy Kalafa who led a discussion with local parent activists after the film, where common experiences were shared, and differences explored.

If you're interested in arranging a local screening, it's not too late - please contact Jackie@sustainweb.org

Children's Food Network - sign up now!

The film screening coincided with the launch of our new Children's Food Network, which aims to link up people around the country to enable them to share ideas and experiences, support each other, and come together at key moments to press for change more effectively. 

We know that it's easy for people to feel isolated and powerless to change things on their own, especially when faced with the might of the food industry.  But up and down the country there are inspiring examples of people winning victories, setting up family cooking courses, buying sustainable school food, running growing projects, sharing allotments and setting up school farms.  The new network is designed to help people learn from each other and unite to make a bigger difference.

Please sign up to the network now at https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/network/ and let us have your feedback.  This will enable us to ensure that the site is as useful and easy to use as possible.

Coming soon - tell us about you

In the next few weeks you'll be invited to complete a short survey about your interest in the campaign and what you'd like to see from us.  This will help us to make sure that we keep you updated with things that are of particular relevance, and help us to shape future campaigning.  It should only take a minute or two to complete, and we'd be really grateful if you could do so, as it will help us ensure that future campaigning on children's food issues is as effective as possible.



April 2009

New Children’s Food campaigners network

Next week’s film screening will also see details of our new network of grassroots campaigners announced.  The network is intended to link up campaigners and activists on children’s food issues around the country to share their ideas and experiences, and to enable us to come together at key moments to press for change more effectively.

If you’re not able to attend the screening, but would be interested in being a “Beta Tester” for the network’s site before its official launch in June, please contact Jackie Schneider at Jackie@sustainweb.org

Caterers try to wriggle out of meeting secondary school meal standards

Campaigners at the Children’s Food Campaign have been fighting claims by some school caterers that the new nutritional standards for secondary school meals, which have already been successfully introduced in primary schools, are too difficult to meet, or will result in pupils rejecting the meals.

The Children’s Food Campaign responded to this unbalanced media coverage with letters to the national press challenging the claims, and a comment piece on the Guardian website, which can be accessed at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/mar/26/school-meals-nutrition-standards

We have also produced a briefing explaining the new standards, why they are needed and how they should not be difficult to implement.  The briefing, which is available on our website at https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/school_food_rules_briefing, has been sent to all MPs and Directors of Children’s Services in England, where the standards are being introduced.

Nestlé slammed for refusal to reduce sugar in cereals

The Children’s Food Campaign was appalled by a recent statement from Nestlé’s on industry news website Food and Drink Europe that it will not ditch many of its unhealthiest cereals, showing that Nestlé’s claim to be “the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company” is pure spin.  

Many of Nestlé’s cereal products, such as Cheerios and Shreddies, are high in sugar – for example, regular Cheerios are more than one-fifth sugar.  So while Nestlé try to win kudos for their commitment to health, they quietly let it be known through trade websites that they are still going to promote high sugar cereals, many of which are aimed at children.

The Children’s Food Campaign is calling on the Government to use their powers to regulate, including expelling Nestlé from the anti-obesity Change4Life campaign, which encourages people to eat regular meals, including a healthy breakfast.

Update: Food Standards Agency Board approves restriction on advertising sugary cereals

Good news: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) Board have rejected a proposal to  change the nutrient profiling model used to decide which foods are healthy enough to be advertised during children’s TV programming, and will advise government Ministers accordingly.

The Children’s Food Campaign welcomes the advice, which if accepted by Ministers, will ensure that foods such as sugary cereals are not classed as healthy by virtue of a high protein content. We could have been faced with some of the worst, sugary cereals being advertised to children during children’s TV programmes if the FSA hadn’t held firm.


March 2009

Film screening: Two Angry Moms

The Children’s Food Campaign, working alongside Merton Parents for Better Food in Schools, Netmums and School Food Matters have organised a free screening of this powerful documentary about the struggles of parents and campaigners to improve the state of school food in the US.

The screening will be held on Thursday 23 April at Wimbledon Odeon, The Broadway, SW19 1QB at 8.00pm, with film maker and ‘angry mom’ Amy Kalafa leading a discussion at the end of the film.  Details of our new network of activists and parents concerned about children’s food will also be announced at this event - stay tuned for more information!

Tickets for this inspiring event are expected to go quickly so if you would like to attend, please email paula@mertonparents.com to reserve a place.  You can download a flyer for the film from www.mertonparents.co.uk/angrymoms_flyer_2-1.pdf.

The cinema is close to Wimbledon Train Station and 10 minutes walk from South Wimbledon tube.  If you can’t get to London, there is the possibility of holding screenings in other parts of the country where there is enough interest.  Alternatively, copies of the DVD are available for small groups.  For more information, see http://www.angrymoms.org/

FSA recommendation to restrict advertising of sugary cereals

It has just been announced that the Food Standards Agency will recommend that its board should reject changes to the nutrient profiling model used to decide which foods are healthy enough to be advertised during children’s TV programming.

The Children’s Food Campaign welcomes the recommendation to retain the protein cap, which ensures that foods with high levels of salt, sugar or fat are not classed as healthy by virtue of a high protein content. 

Research by the National Heart Forum showed that removing the nutrient cap would expose children to even more advertising for sugary cereals like Nestle Coco Shreddies, Frosted Shreddies, Quaker Sugar Puffs, Walkers Cheese and Onion crisps and Kellogg’s Chocolate Wheats.

We now need to see the FSA’s recommendation accepted to ensure that the food companies are not given a loophole in the rules to protect children from marketing of these unhealthy foods – watch this space for updates.

Update: educational materials from the food industry

In December the Children’s Food Campaign released a report, Through the back door, highlighting the way in which the food industry was supplying schools with educational materials which were incorrect, misleading or promoted the consumption of unhealthy foods.

In response to the report, Joan Walley MP tabled Early Day Motion 803: Educational materials and the food industry.  This condemns the practices of food companies producing these misleading materials and calls on the Department of Children, Schools and Families to introduce regulation to protect children from such misleading materials.

So far 67 MPs have signed up to support the motion, but it needs more support to demonstrate the high level of concern about these packs.  Please contact your MP, explaining your concerns and asking them to sign – often it only takes one concerned constituent to persuade an MP to support a motion.  A template letter is available on our website at https://www.sustainweb.org/page.php?id=110.  You can find your MP’s contact details at http://www.writetothem.com/

To read the text of the motion and see which MPs have signed, visit http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=37865&SESSION=899


February 2009

Through the back door - new report from the Children's Food Campaign

The food industry is misleading children and advertising in the classroom, reveals a new report.  Through the back door, written and researched by Richard Watts and Lianna Hulbert of the Children's Food Campaign, documents how children as young as five are being taught in school that cheese is a 'nutritional goldmine", that crisps are healthier than apples and that refilling empty drinks bottles with tap water is unsafe.

The exposé has found that food companies are increasingly cooking up their own lesson plans to promote products to children. It finds that many of the curriculum packs produced by companies contain misleading or incorrect information. The Children's Food Campaign came across packs teaching children that they should include fatty or sugary food as part of their breakfast; that overweight children should not eat less food; and that soft drinks are made with "gooditives", an invented term to put a positive spin on artificial additives.

Released at the end of December, the report received extensive coverage, with reports in the Independent, Daily Mail, Telegraph and Guardian.

The full report can be downloaded from https://www.sustainweb.org/news.php?id=238

EDM 803: Educational materials and the food industry

In response to the report, Joan Walley MP has tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM), condemning the practices of food companies producing these misleading educational materials and calling on the Department of Children, Schools and Families to introduce regulation to protect children from such misleading materials.

We are looking for as MPs as possible to sign this EDM in order to demonstrate the high level of concern regarding these packs.

To read the text of the motion and see if your MP has signed, visit http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=37865&SESSION=899

If your MP hasn't already signed, please contact them, explaining your concerns and asking them to sign.  A template letter is available on our website at https://www.sustainweb.org/page.php?id=110.  You can find your MP's contact details at http://www.writetothem.com/

ASA protect their junk food industry mates (again)

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have rejected a complaint about Nestle's 'Go Free' adverts, which promoted Smarties, Milky Bar and Fruit Pastilles, based on a dispute about false moustaches.

The controversial adverts used images of children playing with sports star Daley Thompson and children wearing false moustaches. They promoted an offer where children could collect sweet wrappings in return for free sports sessions. 

The Children's Food Campaign argued that the use of primary school aged children wearing false moustaches in an advert for child-orientated confectionary brands meant the adverts were aimed at children.  This would break the break the guidelines covering food adverts which stop promotional offers in food and drink adverts being targeted at children. 

But the ASA, who adjudicate on what breaks the advert guidelines, ruled that the Nestle 'Go Free' adverts, which appeared on television and on posters, were targeted at parents, not children.  

Children's Food Campaign Coordinator Jackie Schneider said: "I challenge the ASA to find some children who don't think that fake moustaches on kids are funny. The group of children I consulted found the moustaches deeply amusing.  I can't believe that they seriously want to make the case that it is possible to describe certain fake moustaches as homage to seventies sports stars and others as slapstick!  This is obviously ridiculous and just shows the lengths the ASA will go to not to find against their friends in the junk food industry."

PepsiCo puppets challenged

PepsiCo was left looking irresponsible and hypocritical after Children's Food Campaigner Lianna Hulbert spotted finger puppets on Pepsi's website, contradicting the company's claims that they don't deliberately market to children.

Campaign coordinator Jackie Schneider took the puppets along to a debate entitled What role should the corporate sector play in tackling the global obesity pandemic?, where Dr Derek Yach, PepsiCo's Director of Global Health Policy, was speaking. 

Only days before, Dr Yach defended PepsiCo's record of responsible marketing on BBC Radio Four's Today programme.  Confronted by the puppets, Dr Yach expressed disappointment that they were on the website and has instructed the Director of Corporate affairs for PepsiCo to take action. 

Children's Food Campaign coordinator Jackie Schneider said: "This episode demonstrates once again that the food industry cannot be trusted to adhere to voluntary codes of practice to prevent to marketing of unhealthy food to children, and that stronger regulation must be put in place to protect children from marketers promoting these products."

World Consumer Rights Day - 15 March

World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) is an annual occasion on 15 March for celebration and solidarity within the international consumer movement.  This year Consumers International are using it to highlight their campaign to stop the marketing of unhealthy food to children.

They are encouraging groups around the world to generate awareness and publicity for their own work to protect children from junk food marketing, and have produced an action pack with ideas for marking the day and highlighting the issue.  For more information or to download the pack, visit http://junkfoodgeneration.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=81&Itemid=87


New coordinators for the Children's Food Campaign

The Children's Food Campaign is pleased to announce that Jackie Schneider and Christine Haigh have been appointed as the new coordinators of the Children's Food Campaign.

Jackie Schneider is a high profile public campaigner for better children's food and was a founder of Merton Parents for Better School Food.  Christine Haigh has a long track record as a campaigner and has worked for Women's Environmental Network and the World Development Movement, as well as here at Sustain.

Richard Watts, the previous campaign coordinator, has been promoted to become Campaigns Director of Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, the organisation which coordinates the Children's Food Campaign. 

Over the next few months we will be developing plans for an exciting new phase of the campaign: watch this space for more information!

Jackie and Christine can be reached at the Sustain office on 0203 5596 777, on Jackie@sustainweb.org and Christine@sustainweb.org respectively.

These positions are funded by the British Heart Foundation.

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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.

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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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