Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Cheese ads for children not banned

Cheese adverts will be permitted but will include an on-screen message advising a recommended maximum daily allowance

Controversial plans to ban cheese adverts during children's programmes have been scrapped.

The Government welcomed a decision from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) to exclude cheese from a number of blacklisted foods with high fat, salt and sugar content.

Ads for crisps, fizzy drinks, sweets, pizzas and breakfast cereals are among those to be banned before 6pm, following a year-long consultation.

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte said: "This is a common sense decision from the BAI and demonstrates that the consultation process has worked well."

The BAI originally included cheese on its blacklist but the Department of Health recommended that it row back on its plans, given its health benefits. Other opponents to the plans argued that banning cheese ads could damage Ireland's booming dairy exports. But butter, margarine and mayonnaise remain among the blacklisted foods.

The BAI, which announced the official rules, said that while cheese adverts will be permitted, they will include an on-screen message advising a recommended maximum daily allowance.

Chief executive Michael O'Keefe confirmed that cheese has been removed from its food code. "This was done on the basis that the pre-eminent health body in the state, the Department of Health, recommended this approach given the health benefits and the economic and cultural significance of cheese in an Irish context," he said.

The Irish Farmers' Association welcomed the decision. The group's dairy chairman Kevin Kiersey said restricting cheese adverts would have been totally unacceptable and unjustified given the importance of the industry to the economy.

Elsewhere, celebrities, sports stars and characters from TV and films will also be stopped from promoting foods deemed to be unhealthy. No more than one in four adverts can be for products which have high levels of fat, salt and sugar.

The new rules will be finalised over the coming months and formally launched in January. They will come into effect on July 1 next year. Other food adverts to be banned during children's programmes are those for biscuits and cakes, chips, most sausages and burgers, sweetened milkshakes and sweetened fruit juices.

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