MARKETING | Staff Reporter, Australia

AFGC, Deputy Chief Executive, Dr Annison, rejects MJA study into TV advertising self-regulation being ineffective

Following the publication of the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) study and article claiming that self-regulation has been ineffective in curbing TV advertising of unhealthy fast food to children, QSR Media wanted to know what the Australian Food & Grocery Council (AFGC), your industry body, had to say about it.

Dr Annison, Deputy Chief Executive, AFGC had the following responses:

QSR Media: What is the AFGC's view on the recent study, stating that self-regulation of TV advertising is not effective?

Dr Annison: The AFCG does not agree with the conclusions, since the data presented in the paper itself demonstrate that it has been successful. In particular:

1/. Most of the qsr sector supports initiatives to decrease advertising of unhealthy fast food to children.
2/. The proportion of advertising of "healthy" food or meals has gone up. The proportion of unhealthy, nutrient poor food being advertised has gone down from 95 to 67%.

This is evidence that industry can, and has worked to a voluntary code. We reject their main conclusion that a more regulated approach would be beneficial.

QSR Media: The Australian Medical Journal is calling for government regulation, what is your view on this?

Dr Annison: We do not think that regulation is required in this area and MJA findings do not support this, in particular:

1/. The journal article has failed to clearly define what advertising for children is? i.e. what are the viewing hours, the nature of programmes, ? So how can this be used as an argument that greater regulation is required.
2/. The journal has not presented what an objective for regulation would be specifically; they have not defined what is acceptable and what is unacceptable in terms of being view by children.
3/. The study ignores the experiences of jurisdictions in other parts of world, where bans on advertising have not resulted on a positive impact in the rates of obesity.

QSR Media: The Quick Serve industry is an easy target to lay blame for the Australian obesity epidemic, how is the AFGC addressing this in the minds of regulators?

Dr Annison: The AFGC has developed a number of initiatives:

1. We have instituted voluntary codes relating to the amount of high fat, high salt food to children in the qsr sector and also the wider manufacturing sector with our Responsible Childrens Marketing Initiative.
2/. The AFCG has launched a Daily Intake Guide front of pack labeling schedule scheme for the food industry . Now in its 5th year, its wide spread use amongst all categories including retailers on private label. It provides an easy to use guide to consumers on the contribution a food makes to daily nutrient needs of consumers on the front of food packages.
3/. The AFGC is now in the 3rd year of a partnership with government which is looking at cross industry category industry specific reformulation of food to reduce risk associated nutrients in food such as salt & saturated fat.

QSR Media: How can a QSR be a member of the QSR Fourm? (The QSR Forum is part of the AFGC and represents the quick restaurant industry specifically at meetings with government).

Dr Annison: We have extended an open invitation to QSR sector companies to join the AFCG and became part of the forum. We would welcome any chain restaurant company who wants to become involved to give me a call, to become part of the AFCG. The more QSR’s we represent, the greater weight to our voice to Government and other stakeholders... We now represent a substantial part of the industry. Eagle Boys Pizza’s and Subway have recently joined. 

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