February 24, 2005

NEWS: Cartoon favourites 'selling foods to children' (UK)

Cartoon favourites ?selling foods to children?

by ALISON CHIESA - February 24 2005

CARTOON characters are being used as manipulative marketing ploys to sell products to children, a watchdog said yesterday. Action Man, Bob the Builder and Shrek are among 18 characters used to endorse child-friendly products packed with sugar, salt and fat, it said. Which?, the consumer monitor, called on licensing companies and food manufacturers to act more responsibly.
Nick Stace, campaigns and communications director for Which?, said: "Too many characters loved by children are being used to promote foods high in fat, sugar, and salt, leaving their parents feeling powerless to say no. "Licensing companies and food manufacturers have to take responsibility to tackle the diet and health crisis. "The Food Standards Agency needs to develop a standard setting out nutritional criteria for when these characters can be used on food products."
Products highlighted by the report include pasta shapes in tomato sauce from HP with a picture of Bagpuss on the label. The watchdog found that one serving of the pasta contained 3.75g of salt, nearly double the 2g of salt a child aged one to three should consume in a day, and 0.75g more than the daily recommendation for four to six-year-olds.
The Incredibles, the hit film, has recently been used by Nestle, the food giant, to promote its breakfast cereals. However, Which? discovered that Nestle Golden Nuggets contained 40% sugar. Researchers also looked at a Scooby Doo lunchbox product, made by Primula. The product's 1.75g of salt is classed as "a lot" using guidelines from the Food Standards Agency (FSA). It also contains 14.8g of fat and 29.7g of sugar. Mr Stace added: "These are not treats. These are everyday foods."
Of the 2000 parents surveyed, researchers found 77% believed using cartoon characters to promote foods high in salt, sugar, and fat made it difficult for them to refuse their children's demands. A spokeswoman for the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Scotland said: "The FSA is working on signposting proposals which would aim to give consumers straightforward information about food. "We are also currently working on feeding into EU discussions on the nutrition and health claims proposals."
SOURCE: http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/34077.html


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