Advertisements for some types of cheese will be banned during children’s programming on TV because the high fat and salt content of the product puts it in the same category as junk food.
The decision has been condemned by the dairy industry which points out that cheese plays a vital part in a healthy, balanced diet and is a valuable source of calcium.
Ofcom, the advertising watchdog, intends to introduce new regulations in the next few months because of growing concern about childhood obesity.
After a lengthy consultation process, it has decided that adverts should be restricted for foods assessed as being high in fat, sugar or salt as defined by the Food Standards Agency’s nutrient profiling scheme.
But the decision has angered farm leaders who believe that the FSA’s profiling scheme is flawed. The British Cheese Board said that the model failed to take into account the fact that people eat only small quantities of nutrient dense foods such as cheese.
Amy Jackson, spokeswoman for the Milk Development Council, added: “The Dairy Council, as the industry’s nutritional expert, believes that Ofcom’s proposed advertising rules are sending a mixed message to the nation about the health benefits of dairy. It says it is absurd that dairy products, such as cheese, could be labelled as junk food and compared to products that do not have the same nutritional benefits.”
A spokeswoman for the FSA said that not all types of cheese would be caught by the new rules as some were lower in fat than others. She also stressed that there were benefits from consuming cheese. “Dairy foods are very important. The FSA has never been against the inclusion of cheese in the diet,” she said.