World’s biggest food companies to tighten marketing rules

By Caroline SCOTT-THOMAS contact

- Last updated on GMT

The companies said they would detail reformulation goals by the end of the year
The companies said they would detail reformulation goals by the end of the year

Related tags: Nutrition

Eleven of the world’s biggest food and beverage companies have signed a commitment to harmonise nutrition labelling, and approaches to reformulation and marketing to children on a global basis.

The companies form the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA), which says the move is intended as a commitment to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. The alliance was set up in 2008 in response to the WHO goals.

It said in a statement: “IFBA members will implement, by the end of 2016, a common global approach to the provision of nutrition information on pack, at point of sale and through other channels. This will include labelling the energy value for all products on front of pack worldwide.

“IFBA members will also expand the IFBA Global Policy on Marketing and Advertising to Children, which provides that members either do not market products to children under 12 or if they do, limits what products can be marketed to children under 12.”

WHO calls for government involvement

The move comes as the WHO called on governments​ to reduce children’s exposure to food marketing, especially that of child-targeted junk food.

It said in a statement last week: “In the new European Food and Nutrition Action 2015-2020, Member States will work with WHO to roll out the use of nutrient profile models that assess the nutritional values of foods and provide a scientific basis for marketing restrictions. The goal is to establish a universally high standard across the region and, ultimately, further restrict the impact of potentially harmful food and drink marketing on children.

“…This will require that governments set the criteria for policies, including important definitions around what foods are to be covered by the marketing restrictions.”

The IFBA said its policy on marketing to children would be expanded beyond television, print and the internet to cover “significantly more media”.

In a letter addressed to WHO director-general Margaret Chan, the IFBA said the new pledge would enhance its existing commitments, and also includes goals to do with improving employee health. The group’s report summarising the IFBA’s progress over the past five years is available online here​.

No one from Dr Chan’s office responded to a request for comment prior to publication.

On reformulation, the group said each of its member companies would publish a commitment detailing  goals and commitments by the end of this year. The companies are The Coca-Cola Company, McDonald’s, Mondelez International, Ferrero, General Mills, Grupo Bimbo, Nestlé, Kellogg’s, Mars, Unilever and PepsiCo.

The full commitment is available here​.

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