2010 Archive

December 2010

Dear friends,

We know you’ll all be busy as the holiday period approaches, but wanted to take this month’s update as a chance to say thank you for all your support during the year.  We’ve had a fantastic year, with some big successes, and have certainly kept you busy! 

Below is a round-up of our achievements in 2010.  We’re really grateful for all your help and support for our campaigning - we certainly couldn’t have done it without you.

As we look forward to the coming year, we know we’re going to have our work cut out.  Figures released earlier this month show that childhood obesity is continuing to rise, and the UK is the fattest country in Europe.  And while we wait to see the full impact of the new coalition government’s policies, there are signs that ministers may be more interested in cosying up with big business than taking the steps we need to tackle the crisis in children’s diets. Meanwhile, there is a risk that the cuts will impact on children’s health, as local authorities will be faced with less money and may struggle to support the school meals service, and the School Food Trust has yet to hear what their budget will be.

As we continue to call for better children’s food, your support will be more crucial than ever.  If there is anything you would especially like us to look at in our campaigning in the coming year, please let us know by emailing us at Christine@sustainweb.org or dropping us a line on 0203 5596 777.

Wishing you season’s greetings as we look forward to 2011 being another successful year of campaigning.

Best wishes,

Jackie Schneider and Christine Haigh
Children’s Food Campaign Coordinators


We started the year with many hundreds of you responding to the government’s consultation over product placement on television. We believe it was the overwhelming number of emails they received from our supporters which influenced them to pursue a complete ban on product placement of junk food.

In order to shame Kellogg’s into withdrawing its aggressive advertising campaign encouraging children to eat Coco Pops as an after-school snack, we had a great response to our request for alternative slogans.  Subsequently, Kellogg’s announced that it would be reducing the amount of sugar in the cereal, and when it  launches a new product in the range, it will not target their marketing at children.

When it was announced in June that plans to extend free school meals to all primary school children below the poverty line would be scrapped, your letters and emails to Education Secretary Michael Gove helped to make the case for the cuts to be reconsidered.  Although the plans haven’t been reinstated, in his response Mr Gove said that he was “sympathetic” to arguments for extending eligibility for free school meals, and next year we will be campaigning to see this made a reality.

Over the summer we asked for your thoughts on how the government’s Change4Life anti-obesity campaign might look if it is handed over to the food industry, as Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is proposing.  We had some fantastic spoof suggestions, and earlier this month we took the favourite poster to the Department of Health.

Finally, thanks to everyone who signed our “Save our School Dinners!” petition.  Over 4,000 people signed it, and our own Jackie Schneider was there earlier this month when the petition was handed in at the Department for Education, sending a strong message to the government that school meals must be protected from the spending cuts.

Not only this, but throughout the year, many of you befriended us on Facebook and ‘liked’ our Children’s Food Campaign page, and some of you promoted us to your friends.  Some of you also chatted to us on Twitter and re-tweeted many of our comments.  This kind of help has enabled us to spread our message far and wide - so thank-you!






November 2010 - help us stop junk food companies writing public health policy

Help! We need to recruit more supporters to the Children’s Food Campaign. It is vital that we get an army of parents, grandparents, friends, teachers and health professionals to help send a clear message to this government that children need protecting from junk food marketing and that school dinner services need support.

We are asking everyone who gets our monthly updates  to help us sign up new supporters. Please pass this flyer or a link to our website to encourage friends and family to sign up to become a supporter.

Also in this month’s email:
• Department of Health in bed with big business
• Favourite Change4Life spoof slogan
• Every school a food-growing school

Department of Health in bed with big business

The alarming news that Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is looking to junk food companies, including McDonalds and PepsiCo, to help develop public health policy has provoked a strong reaction amongst health charities and food campaigners. Investigative reporter Felicity Lawrence has written a special report for The Guardian: click here to read her report.

These are very worrying times. We believe that it is vital for children’s health that they are protected from the marketing of food and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar and are concerned that a closer relationship between the Department of Health and junk food companies means that children will be exposed to more, not less junk food marketing.

We need to be very vigilant over the coming months as some food companies may try to test current boundaries, and we need your help with this. Please send us any examples you find of companies marketing high fat, salt sugar foods at children or misleading claims on adverts or packaging.

In addition, you can sign a petition on this issue at http://food.change.org/blog/view/uk_health_policy_brought_to_you_by_mcdonalds_pepsi_and_kfc.

Favourite Change 4 Life spoof slogan

Following concerns about a “corporate takeover” of Change 4 Life we asked supporters to choose their favourite slogan from a selection of the best spoof posters you sent us - thanks to everyone who suggested slogans or voted for their favourite.  You can see the favourite slogan at https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/change_for_life/.
We will be producing a full sized poster to take to the Department of Health, and writing to them with our suggestions as to what junk food companies could do to genuinely help reduce childhood obesity.

Every school a food growing school

Children’s Food Campaign has been working with a number of growing and educational charities to persuade the government that every child needs to learn food growing as part of their education. Together with a coalition of expert organisations, we have produced a report which we sent to government ministers ahead of a meeting with senior civil servants from Defra .  You can download a copy of the report at https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/food_growing_in_schools/. ( Please note that you will be asked if you would like to make a donation but this is voluntary.)

October 2010 - Change4Life corporate handover - vote now!

The need to protect children’s health from public cuts and corporate profits has been especially clear this month after we showed how the government’s enthusiasm for getting food companies involved in the Change4Life health campaign has lead to Nestlé using the campaign logo on a promotion for sweets and chocolate.  To find out more, read on…

In this month’s update:
• Change4Life corporate handover: vote now!
• Nestlé breaches Change4Life guidelines to promote sweets and sugary cereals
• School Food Trust loses public status
• Budget cuts = school meal cuts?

Change4Life corporate handover: vote now!

We had some amazing ideas from you about what a new corporate Change4Life might look like, which has helped to send out a strong message to the new government that health campaigns should not be run by the very companies that profit from selling unhealthy food.  Next month we’ll be writing to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley with our concerns, and we want to include a copy of the best spoof poster to demonstrate public opposition.  Please vote for your favourite poster now at https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/change_for_life/.  We’ll be announcing the favourite slogan in next month’s email.

Nestlé breaches Change4Life guidelines to promote sweets and sugary cereals

Our campaign hit the headlines recently after we revealed how food giant Nestlé, one of the companies involved in the Change4Life campaign, was breaching the campaign guidelines by using the Change4life logo on a promotion for sweets, chocolate and sugary cereal.  24 of the 27 products included Nestlé’s “Get set go free” promotion would have received a red light, indicating high levels of sugar, under the traffic light labelling scheme developed by the Food Standards Agency and used by companies such as Asda and Sainsbury’s.  Our findings show just how easy it is for food companies to use their association with Change4Life to their advantage while undermining the campaign.

The story was covered by the BBC, Daily Mail, Telegraph and Independent.

School Food Trust loses public status

A week before the government’s main spending cuts were announced, it was revealed that the School Food Trust, set up as a public body to improve school food following hard fought public campaigning, would lose its public status. While we’re pleased that the School Food Trust will continue to exist as a charity, as a charity ourselves we know that they can lack the status and security of funding that children’s health deserves, and are concerned that this is yet another sign that the new government has failed to recognise the importance of school food. 

The School Food Trust has played an important role in transforming school food over the last few years, but sadly this work is far from complete.  We will continue to campaign for school food to receive the support that it needs – and will need your support to do so.  Please encourage everyone you know who cares about children’s health to sign up at http://www.childrensfoodcampaign.org.uk/.

Budget cuts = school meal cuts?

We are concerned that tight budgets may lead to some local authorities taking short cuts with their school meals services.  For example, Derby City Council is reported to be trying to move away from food that is freshly prepared on-site – you can read more here. We are keen to know about any other similar cuts so that we can defend our school meals services – if you hear of any please contact Jackie on 0203 5596 777 or Jackie@sustainweb.org.  

September 2010 - save our school dinners!

Petition: Save our school dinners!

There have been worrying signs in recent months that the new government fails to recognise the importance of school food, and that standards and investment may be allowed to slip.  In the run-up to the spending review in October, we’ve teamed up with the Soil Association, Mumsnet, and Netmums to launch a petition to call on the government to keep investing in school food so that the transformation it has been undergoing over the last few years can be completed.  There’s not long to go before the spending review, so please sign the petition now [https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign].

It’s vital we present the government with thousands of signatures so that the scale of support for school meals is clear.  So please pass details of the petition on to others you know you would support it, by forwarding this email, “liking” the petition on our Facebook page or re-tweeting us on Twitter.

If you’d like to do more, you can also write to your MP, asking them to support an Early Day Motion on this issue.  Click here for details.

Sustainable school food

Now is a great opportunity to push for sustainably sourced food in schools.  One of our sister campaigns, Good Food For Our Money, is supporting a new Parliamentary Bill which would require all food served in public institutions such as schools, hospitals and care homes to meet legal health, environmental and ethical standards. 

The Bill urgently needs the support of your MP to be successful.  Please ask them to sign an Early Day Motion supporting the Bill and to attend the second reading of the Bill in November.  The campaign has created a simple way to send a message to your MP here.

Change4Life corporate handover: update

Thanks to everyone who took part in our Change4Life spoof action – the attention it attracted has already sent a strong message to the new government that health campaigns shouldn’t be run by the very companies that profit from selling unhealthy food.  Next month we’ll be asking for your vote on the best slogan, so if you haven’t submitted yours yet, you can do so now at https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/change_for_life/.


August 2010 - challenge the Change4Life corporate handover

We’re still reeling from a near miss on Sunday when it emerged that health minister Anne Milton was considering cutting the nursery milk scheme.  In a u-turn live on the BBC, Downing Street ruled that this cut will not go ahead, but the incident indicates just how vulnerable measures to protect children’s health are.

Your support is vital now more than ever, so please consider taking action to support our campaigns.  In this month’s update:
- Change4Life, the corporate handover
- Kellogg’s respond to Coco Pops campaign
- Help protect children from junk food advertising

Change4Life, the corporate handover

We know that many families have found ideas from the government’s Change4Life anti-obesity campaign really useful in helping them to adopt healthier lifestyles.  But we’re alarmed at the announcement by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley that he wants commercial companies, including food manufacturers like Nestlé and PepsiCo, to help run the campaign.

We think that this would be a direct conflict of interest – after all, how effective will companies that sell food and drink high fat, sugar or salt be at persuading us to eat less of their best selling products?  To help illustrate the problem, we’re asking people to consider how the campaign might look if it was run by food industry “partners”.

Please visit our new action where you can design and download your own corporate Change4Life messages.  Send your best ones to us and we’ll display our favourites in the online gallery, and may send them to the Department of Health to highlight our concerns about food industry involvement in the Change4Life campaign.

Kellogg’s respond to Coco Pops campaign

Last week Kellogg’s announced that, in response to parents’ concerns, they will be reducing the amount of sugar in their Coco Pops cereals from next year.  While the reductions don’t go far enough, amounting to the removal of less than two grammes of sugar per portion, it shows that companies like Kellogg’s are influenced by complaints from parents.  We will be keeping the pressure on food companies to ensure that they don’t get away with anything like the outrageous Coco Pops adverts which targeted school children earlier this year.  Kellogg’s recent announcement was covered in an article in the Guardian which includes a quote from us; you can read it at http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/aug/04/kelloggs-cuts-sugar-coco-pops.

Help protect children from junk food advertising

A report from Ofcom last month found that a ban on advertising unhealthy foods during children’s television resulted in children seeing a third less junk food adverts on TV.  While this is a good start, most of the adverts children now see are during programmes popular with both children and adults, such as The X Factor and Coronation Street, which aren’t covered by the ban.  A 9pm watershed for junk food advertising on television would provide much better protection for children, and is supported by a wide coalition of health and children’s charities, including the British Heart Foundation (BHF).  You can tell the Government they need to do more to protect children from junk food advertising on TV using the BHF’s online action here


July 2010 - keep children hydrated!

Back in May we launched a report on the state of drinking fountains in public parks, summarising the results of the survey that many of you helped us carry out last summer.  It showed that only 11 per cent of parks have drinking water fountains, and of these, a third don’t even work.  You can read the full report at https://www.sustainweb.org/publications/?id=183.

Yet providing drinking water in public places such as parks where children and young people congregate and play is a real win-win.  It ensures that they can quench their thirst without having to resort to drinks that contain large amounts of sugar or additives, and reduces the waste created by bottles and cans.  And even in these times of cash-strapped governments, drinking fountains are a great investment – they’re cheap to install, and cost virtually nothing to run and keep clean.

Our campaigning has already seen success: as a result of one campaigner contacting her local council about this issue, several new fountains have been installed in the borough’s parks.

Now we want to spread this success country-wide with a series of petitions to local councils encouraging them to fix broken fountains and install new ones where none currently exist.  Already there are petitions in Bristol, and in the London Boroughs of Lambeth and Merton – if you live, work or study in any of these areas, please click on the link to sign the relevant petition.

If there’s not already a petition where you live, why not start one?  It’s quick and easy, and we can help you to get started.  Either get in touch with us directly at Christine@sustainweb.org / 0203 5596 777 and we’ll guide you through the process, or, if you’d rather get on with it yourself, go to https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/drinking_water_petition for simple online instructions.  Whichever you do, please let us know so that we can promote your petition to other Children’s Food Campaign supporters and signpost people to it from our website.

For more information about the campaign, and other ways to get involved, visit https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/waterinparks.



June 2010 - free school meal cuts, thirsty play and a red light for traffic lights

What with the launch of our report on the state of the nation’s water fountains, the EU vote on traffic light labelling and the first of the new government’s cuts affecting school meals, we’ve had a really hectic month here at the Children’s Food Campaign.  Thanks to all those who did our urgent action to write to Michael Gove opposing the cuts – there’s more below about this issue.  So in this month’s update:
- Free school meals take the hit
- Thirsty play: the state of drinking fountains in the UK’s parks
- European Parliament gives traffic lights the red light

Free school meals take the hit

A couple of weeks ago, the new government announced that it was dropping plans to extend free school meal eligibility to primary school children from low income working families - a real blow for children from low income working families, and also parents who are trying to move into work, as school meals cost around £300 a year per child.

Thanks to everyone who wrote to Michael Gove to ask him to reconsider the move – your help has shown that the government can’t get away with making cuts like these quietly. If you haven’t already written to Mr Gove, please use our online action at https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/school_meals_action to do so.

An Early Day Motion (a sort of petition for MPs) has now been tabled opposing the cuts to free school meals, and so far 53 MPs have signed. You can read the motion and check whether your MP has signed at http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=41171&SESSION=905. (If you’re not sure who your MP is following the election, you can find out at http://www.writetothem.com/.)  If they haven’t already signed it, please get in touch and ask them to do so - and let us know if you receive a response. There’s a template letter available on our website at https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/school_meals_edm.

The issue has received quite a bit of coverage in the media, including an article in the Guardian last week about our coalition’s objections to the cuts. You can read this at http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/jun/22/free-school-meals-health-backlash-cuts.

Thirsty play: the state of drinking fountains in the UK’s parks

At the end of May we launched the results of last summer’s survey of drinking fountain provision in 140 public parks, which found that only 11 per cent of parks had a fountain, and of these, only two thirds worked. The report received considerable media attention, including pieces in the Guardian and Daily Telegraph, and Jackie was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme. Thanks to all those who helped with the survey last summer – it has really helped to get drinking fountains into the public eye. We’ve got a new campaign about this in the pipeline (more details will be coming in July) but for a sneak preview or to read the report, check out https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/waterinparks.

European Parliament gives traffic lights the red light

Thanks to all of you who contacted your MEPs about traffic light labelling. The vote was held on 16 June, but unfortunately, following a €1bn lobbying campaign by the food industry, MEPs failed to make traffic lights labels mandatory, favouring instead the less clear GDA (guideline daily amount) labels. However, it’s not all over yet, as the legislation must be agreed by the European Commission and Council. We’ll be following this and will alert you to any other opportunities to help bring in traffic light labels.



May 2010  

We need your help to recruit more supporters for the Children’s Food Campaign

With the general election and formation of a new Government earlier this month, we’ve had an interesting few weeks since our last update.

With new leaders, there will be new opportunities to improve children’s food where the previous government had failed to act. But there is also a risk, particularly in the current economic climate, that some of the gains we have seen, such as getting practical cooking skills back on the curriculum and the ban on junk food advertising during children’s programming, could be lost.

We’ll be watching closely as the new coalition government’s plans unfold, but we need to have a strong voice standing up for children’s health. To ensure we continue to hold government and food companies to account it will be vital to have a large and diverse group of supporters. Therefore we are asking everyone we know who shares our concerns about children’s health to sign up to receive this monthly e mail newsletter.

Please help us by forwarding this email to anyone you know who cares about children’s health – friends, family, neighbours, parents at your child’s school or nursery - and asking them to sign up at http://www.childrensfoodcampaign.org.uk/. We’ve also got a flyer which you can send by email, or print out to pass on to others who might share our concerns – download it now at https://www.sustainweb.org/pdf2/CFC_Flyer_2010.pdf. By signing up, supporters will receive a monthly update that will keep them abreast of new developments and suggest ways they can support the campaign, such as writing to an important decision-maker at a vital moment.

Thanks for your support for our work: with your help we can reach out to a wider range of people and make new progress with our campaigning for children’s health. We are always open to new ideas so please let us know if you have any suggestions for how we can attract new supporters.

Best wishes,

Christine Haigh and Jackie Schneider
Children's Food Campaign Coordinators

P.S. If you haven’t done so already, please visit http://www.bhf.org.uk/news_and_campaigning/our_campaigns/food_labelling.aspx  to email your MEP to ask them to vote in favour of traffic light labelling at the vote in mid-June. You can also check out the new food labelling quiz to see for yourself the benefits of traffic light labels.

P.P.S. Look out for our new report, Thirsty Play, about drinking fountains in parks, which is being released soon.  There'll be more on this next month.




April 2010   

P.S.  Devolved or reserved?

In response to a request from one of our Scottish supporters, from now on we will be trying to indicate in these email updates where an issue or campaign action is devolved, or only relevant to you if you live in certain parts of the UK.  Much of our work, such as our recent campaign against product placement of junk food, and taking on the Coco Pop adverts, is relevant in the whole of the UK.  But where an issue is specific to England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales, we’ll try to make sure that we point this out.

Get our real food education campaign growing

We’ve just launched our new campaign to get every school growing food. Supported by Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins and former Children's Laureate Michael Morpurgo, the campaign is calling for the next Secretary of State for Education to ensure that every school has space for food growing, training for teachers, and Ofsted inspections to check that food growing is being taught. We need as many people as possible to contact the Education Secretaries for the three main parties before the election to ensure that they get the message, so please act now if you haven’t done so already! To find out more, and contact the Education Secretaries, visit https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/food_growing_in_schools. (Since education is a devolved issue, this action is only relevant to supporters in England.  However, if you live in other parts of the UK, why not contact your Minister for Education?  Very often, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are ahead of England, so we’d love to hear what they think.)

Give traffic lights the green light

Last month we told you about the vote in which traffic light labelling on foods – which help people to make healthier choices at a glance – narrowly missed being made compulsory across Europe.  Between 17 and 20 May, all MEPs will be involved in a second vote on this issue, which gives us a real chance of getting traffic light labelling on our foods.  Please visit http://e-activist.com/ea-campaign/clientcampaign.do?ea.client.id=57&ea.campaign.id=6350 now to contact your MEPs about this issue.

If you’d like to know more about traffic light labelling, have a look at this short video produced by European organisation Foodwatch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fthixcwCVo

Healthy school meals for every child

As you may remember, we’re also working with a coalition including Child Poverty Action Group, Save the Children, the National Union of Teachers and Citizen’s Advice Bureau to call on all Parliamentary candidates to support free school meals.  There’s not long left to do this, so please visit http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/speakout/FreeSchoolMealsP now to take action, wherever you live in the UK.

Currently, only some children from low income households are entitled to free meals. In secondary school, meals are only free for children from households where none of the adults have a job. But nearly 60 percent of children in poverty have at least one employed parent, so they miss out on the help they need. We believe that free school meals should be available to all children to ensure they can benefit from a healthy meal.

Coco Pops: the latest

There’s been a flurry of interest in our Coco Pops campaign after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that the bus stop adverts, which encouraged children to eat Coco Pops as an after school snack, did not breach advertising rules.  We’re not surprised, since the ASA is funded and run by the advertising industry itself, but are pleased that the Department of Health has raised our concerns with Kellogg’s, which is a partner in its Change4Life health campaign.  The ASA ruling meant that we’ve had lots of coverage for the campaign, with articles in the Guardian and Daily Mail, and Children’s Food Campaign Coordinator Jackie Schneider being interviewed on BBC Radio’s Today Programme.  You can read our response to the ruling at https://www.sustainweb.org/news/april10_response_to_asa_ruling_on_coco_pops/


March 2010

Our new food growing campaign: a sneak preview

This weekend sees the launch of our new campaign to get every school growing food. We’ve got a couple of famous faces on board, and are hoping to get some publicity for the campaign over Easter. We want the next Secretary of State for Education to ensure that every school has space for food growing, training for teachers, and Ofsted inspections to check that food growing is being taught. To get a sneak review of the campaign and contact the Education Secretaries, the campaign’s website is now live at https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/food_growing_in_schools.

Take action for free school meals

We’re also working with a coalition including Child Poverty Action Group, Save the Children, the National Union of Teachers and Citizen’s Advice Bureau to call on all Parliamentary candidates to support free school meals.

Currently, only some children from low income households are entitled to free meals. In secondary school, meals are only free for children from households where none of the adults have a job. But nearly 60 percent of children in poverty have at least one employed parent, so they miss out on the help they need. We believe that free school meals should be available to all children to ensure they can benefit from a hot, healthy meal.

To take action, visit http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/speakout/FreeSchoolMealsP.

Coco Pops update

Thanks to your campaigning, we’ve sent a strong message to Kellogg’s telling them that their recent Coco Pops advertising campaign, which suggested to children “Ever thought of Coco Pops after school?” was not acceptable.

At a recent parliamentary food and health forum about breakfast clubs Children’s Food Campaign Coordinator Jackie Schneider embarrassed a spokesperson for the company when she questioned the adverts. The Kellogg’s representative said that they had not intended to cause upset, and that the posters had been taken down.

And as a result of our messages to the Government, the Department of Health has said that it “understands the concerns raised and is seeking a meeting with Kellogg to discuss the matter”.

All in all, we’ve sent a strong signal to Kellogg’s and other junk food marketers that this type of advertising is more trouble than it’s worth.

Meanwhile, we’re pleased to announce the winner of our competition to come up with an alternative slogan for that adverts: Rob Ager wins a genuinely healthy after-school snack, (a banana in its own special banana case) for his winning entry, “Do they give a monkey’s for kids’ health?”, which can be seen at https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/coco_pops. Congratulations to Rob, and thanks to all who took part.

Traffic light labelling developments

A couple of weeks ago we asked you to contact Lord Rooker, Chair of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Board, to ask him to reject the recommendation from FSA that traffic light labelling should only be optional. The recommendation ignored the FSA’s own evidence which found that traffic light colours were a key part of the best understood label, and that having different labelling schemes was confusing to consumers.

At the Board meeting, the volume of emails received got a particular mention, but despite this, the Board agreed the recommendation, which now needs the approval of the Health Secretary.

However, traffic light labelling has also received attention at the European level recently. While at a recent vote in the ENVI (Environment, Public Health and Food Safety) committee failed to make traffic light labelling mandatory, the outcome doesn’t stop individual countries like the UK from adopting national rules about labelling schemes such as traffic lights, which there were concerns about

The other good news from the ENVI vote is that the proposal was only rejected by 32 to 30 votes. With a strong message to MEPs when they all get to vote on this in May or June, we could improve on this. We will keep you updated on the progress of this, and let you know about lobbying your MEPs when we have more details.

Children’s Food Campaign on Facebook

We have finally got round to setting up a facebook page . If you are facebook members please visit us and become a ‘fan’ of our page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Childrens-Food-Campaign/339335363902?v=info&ref=ts


March 2010  - Product placement victory!

We were delighted by today’s announcement that we have won in our campaign to stop the Government introducing product placement of junk food in UK-made television programmes.  In his announcement, Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw said:

“The Directive prohibits the placement of two specific types of product, that is tobacco products (as well as any other placement by or on behalf of a company whose principal activity is the manufacture or sale of tobacco products) and prescription medicines.  The Government has decided to move significantly beyond this.  Our legislation will specifically prohibit the placement of products and services in the following categories

  • alcoholic drinks; 
  • foods and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar; 
  • gambling; 
  • smoking accessories; 
  • over-the-counter medicines; and 
  • infant formula and follow-on formula.”

The announcement came a week after The Guardian published a leaked story.

You can read our press release at https://www.sustainweb.org/news/prod_place_win2/

Thanks again to all who supported the campaign by responding to the consultation, and passing details onto their friends – this is a huge victory for all those who want to improve children’s diets.  Children’s Food Campaign supports sent in well over 1000 responses to the consultation, a massive response compared to the handful of pro-product placement responses.
The coalition that opposed product placement ranged from the Church of England to the Portman Group, which represents drinks companies.  Any government that, in the future, might try to reintroduce product placement of junk food will have a fight on their hands.


March 2010 - Action

On Friday (5 March), the food industry secured a victory in their battle against clear food labelling after a paper from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) gave in and recommended that traffic light labelling should only be optional. The FSA’s own evidence shows that using traffic light colours on food labels to indicate whether a product is high or low in fat, sugar and salt is the most helpful way to show what are healthy food choices. Research shows that parents shopping for their families are among those most likely to use this type of label, and people have reported that traffic light labels are a useful way of teaching children how to choose healthy foods. Yet the FSA are ignoring this evidence in an attempt to pacify the food industry.

But it’s not too late to stop this! The FSA’s recommendations have to be approved by the FSA’s Board before going to the Government, and you can email their chair, Lord Rooker, to ask that the Board overturn these recommendations. The Board meet at 9am this Wednesday (10th March), so please email them now, making the following points:

  • The paper published by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) on Friday was disappointing because it will let food companies off the hook in providing consistent and easily understood front of pack nutritional labelling.
  • The paper ignores the FSA’s own evidence: the independent evaluation of front-of-pack signpost labelling commissioned by the FSA found that traffic light colours were a key part of the best understood label, and that having different labelling schemes was confusing to consumers.
  • The FSA Board should reject the recommendations and stick by its own evidence in favour of a single scheme which incorporates traffic light colours as a necessary, not optional, part.

Please send your email to Lord Rooker, Chair of the FSA Board, c/o philip.clarke@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk or debbie.coles@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk at the FSA Board Secretariat before Wednesday 10th March.

Thanks for taking action to ensure clear food labelling that everyone, including children, can understand.

P.S. We got a mention about this in the Telegraph on Friday – read the article here.


February 2010   

Coco Pops: take on the adverts!

We're outraged that Kellogg’s, a partner in the government's Change4life health campaign, has adverts suggesting to children "ever thought of Coco Pops after school?"  Coco Pops are 35% sugar, and are therefore classified as "high in sugar" according to the Food Standards Agency
But now you can compose your own slogan to appear in an alternative version of the advert.   Visit our website [https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/coco_pops/] and follow the simple instructions, and then you can download your own version to keep. If you email us a copy we’ll enter you in a competition to win a genuinely healthy after-school snack, and put up a selection of our favourites in our gallery.

If you haven’t already done so, you might like to email Kellogg’s to complain about the adverts at corporateresponsibility@kellogg.com.  You might also like to copy the Department of Health into your email to make them aware of your concerns: dhmail@dh.gsi.gov.uk.  There are tips for writing your email at https://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/coco_pops/

Demand better nursery food now

Our friends at the Soil Association are asking Mums and Dads, nursery workers and concerned individuals to sign a petition demanding better nursery food, which they'll be taking to government in March.

The Better Nursery Food Now campaign wants to help parents tell the Government about your experience with the quality of food served to your children; whether it’s a nursery serving junk food, or food with artificial additives and e-numbers, or bad food generally.  Join the campaign on Facebook and share your stories: www.facebook.com/betternurseryfood.  Alternatively, you can email your stories in confidence to James Blair, JBlair@soilassociation.org.

The campaign is calling on the Government to put in place clear rules for the quality of nursery school food.  School lunch has strong new rules to protect children from unhealthy food, but nurseries have been left behind.  Please to get the word out by emailing this to your networks and communities
More information about the campaign can be found at: http://www.nurseryfood.org/

Competition: London schools get growing

Sustain project Capital Growth and the Mayor of London have launched an exciting new schools competition today to encourage London's primary schools to get growing.  Schools with existing gardens will be encouraged to start growing food, expand their plots or start planting food from scratch. The competition has the support of Chris Collins, the Blue Peter gardener, who will visit one of the winning schools, and the judges include Rosie Boycott, the chair of London Food, Peter Holman, CEO of London in Bloom, and Katie Law from the Evening Standard.

There are three categories: 'Bugs and Slugs' (a garden focused on biodiversity); 'Collect and Create' (a garden encouraging the reuse and recycling of 'waste' items); 'Climate Cool' (a garden designed to cope with a changing climate). The top food growing schools in each category will win a visit by a celebrity gardener, cash prizes of £500, plants and a wormery. There will also be prizes for 12 runners up including fruit- and vegetable-growing packs, mushroom kits, seed-sowing kits and gardening tools.

Participating schools will receive a welcome pack, access to curriculum links, lesson planners, volunteers, practical support and advice, help with getting discounts on gardening items and free materials plus opportunities to apply for small grants.  For more information or to register, visit: www.capitalgrowth.org/schools


January 2010

Ever thought of avoiding Coco Pops after school?

A new advertising campaign from Kelloggs, suggesting to children “ever thought of Coco Pops after school?” has been eliciting outrage from parents on forums such as Netmums and Twitter.  We think it’s shocking that Kelloggs, who are partners of the Government’s Change4Life health campaign, are encouraging children to eat more sugary cereals (Coco Pops are 35% sugar) when one of the key messages of the Change4Life campaign is “sugar swaps”, encouraging families to swap snacks with added sugar for low sugar or sugar-free alternatives.  If you’d like to complain, you can email Kelloggs at corporateresponsibility@kellogg.com.  You might also like to copy the Department of Health into your email to make them aware of your concerns: dhmail@dh.gsi.gov.uk

Product placement hits the headlines

Our year got off to a great start with a range of influential organisations including the Church of England, British Medical Association, National Union of Teachers and ISBA, the trade body representing British advertisers, publicly speaking out against product placement.  This has put real pressure on the Government to reconsider plans to introduce this form of advertising in the UK.  Here’s a roundup of the coverage:

  • The Church of England hit the headlines over Christmas with its opposition to product placement, arguing that retaining trust in broadcasters' integrity and editorial balance is key to maintaining strong relationships between audience and broadcaster, which in turn has both civic, societal and economic benefits”.
  • The opposition of the British Medical Association, National Union of Teachers, Which? and National Children’s Bureau to product placement was noted in a front page article in the Guardian on 4 January.
  • Peter Hollins, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, has written an article for ePolitix expressing concerns that, with product placement “we are in serious danger of putting the health of the advertising industry above the health of the nation”.
  • 7 January saw a letter from 27 individuals and organisations published in the Guardian.
  • The following day, the Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, and Royal College of Physicians expressed their own concerns in a second letter to the Guardian.
  • More unexpectedly, ISBA, the major industry body representing British Advertisers has also announced its opposition to product placement, raising concerns about “higher costs for advertisers and more complaints from the viewing public”.
  • Similarly, the Portman Group, representing drinks companies, has said that it is concerned that product placement “could lead to some less scrupulous companies abandoning other strictly-regulated media in favour of high-profile product placement through which they could convey brand associations (for example, with excessive or inappropriate consumption, sexual success etc) that they could not convey through other forms of marketing.”

New petition: tell Gordon Brown to stop product placement

The consultation on product placement has now closed, but thanks to your support, more than a thousand responses have been submitted, telling the Department of Culture, Media and Sport not to allow product placement in the UK.  A decision is expected by the end of January, but in the meantime you can put pressure on Gordon Brown to put a stop to the plans by signing a Number 10 petition at http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/ProductPlacement/.  Do pass this link on to anyone else you know who may also be concerned about product placement – the more signatures the better!

Lousy lunchboxes

School lunchboxes were in the media recently after research from the University of Leeds published in the British Medical Journal found that only 1% of lunchboxes would meet the nutritional standards that now apply to school meals.  The Children’s Food Campaign was quoted in several articles, including those in the Guardian and Daily Mail, criticising companies that market unhealthy lunchbox foods and calling for all school children to be provided with a healthy school meal.

Heinz misleading baby milk marketing

The Children’s Food Campaign was delighted by the Advertising Standards Agency’s recent decision to uphold a complaint that Heinz did not have sufficiently robust evidence to support claims that its Nurture range of infant formula supported children’s immunity and development.  This is the latest in a long line of misleading claims on products marketed for children, which are designed to persuade parents to part with their cash.  The ruling came only months after a very similar case in which Danone had some of its adverts for Actimel banned because it was unable to adequately support claims that it was “scientifically proven to help support your kids’ defences”.  In both cases the companies involved have used research carried out in developing countries to try to back up claims that they work in the same way in developed countries such as the UK.  The story received coverage in the Telegraph and Guardian.

Children’s Food Campaign supports National Salt Awareness Week 2010: 1-7 February

This years Salt Awareness Week, organised by the charity Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) and supported by the Children’s Food Campaign, will highlight the way in whcih salt can contribute to a range of health conditions including high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, obesity and kidney stones. CASH wishes to raise awareness that a high salt diet can be detrimental to your health what ever your age, and that too much salt even as a child can lead to health problems later in life. The week will encourage everyone to make more of their own food at home and to check product labels when shopping, as well as encouraging the food industry to reduce the salt that they add to processed foods. Over 400 events will be held around the country, including 50 events being held in schools and children’s centres. For further information about the week, and to find out about the events going on around the country, visit http://www.actiononsalt.org.uk/.

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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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