News

Qld bans ‘junk food’ ads

Terry Sim, 01/05/2019

PROPOSED restrictions on outdoor junk food advertising in Queensland will only apply to state-owned infrastructure, but not sports stadiums.

Queensland’s Health Minister Steven Miles has announced the State Government will restrict outdoor advertising in Queensland featuring high fat, salt and sugar products, and alcohol, in consultation with the advertising industry.

The impact of the proposed restrictions on the red meat industry and its customers in the fast food and service sector is yet to be determined, but Diabetes Queensland has supported the initiative.

Mr Miles’ office said the proposed restrictions will only affect state-owned infrastructure and will not affect advertising at major sports facilities managed by Stadiums Queensland.

A spokesman from the Australian Food and Grocery Council said outdoor advertising, by its nature, targets the majority of consumers who are adults, who can exercise their choice through consumer power.

“The food and grocery sector has codes in place to restrict promotion of high salt, fat and sugar products to children.”

The government is in talks with the outdoor advertising industry about how the proposed restrictions will be phased in and form part of a wider strategy to deliver “some real changes in health outcomes for Queenslanders”, a media release from Mr Miles’ said. There will be no public consultation on the initiative.

Mr Miles said research showed, just as tobacco ads increased the uptake of smoking, that junk food marketing is related to childhood obesity and a quarter of Queensland children are overweight or obese.

“As a priority, we have set an ambitious target to increase the proportion of adults and children with a healthy body weight by 10 percent by 2026.

“We spend millions of dollars promoting healthy, happy living; yet we allow ads on government spaces and near our schools and hospitals that are not in line with that message,” Mr Miles said.

“We, as a government, need to lead by example and that’s exactly what these ad restrictions will achieve.”

Meat & Livestock Australia’s chief marketing and communications officer Lisa Sharp said MLA noted that the exact practical application of the announcement will be released following consultation with the advertising industry, fast food companies and other stakeholders.

“Ultimately, it is these retailers who will be able to indicate the impact – if any – will be felt on their products from the policy following this consultation.”

Ms Sharp said red meat is naturally rich in protein, iron and zinc that is well absorbed by the body, which is why the nutritional benefits of red meat as part of a healthy, balanced diet in line with the Australian Dietary Guidelines are consistently used as part of promoting red meat to consumers.

She said in the domestic market, health and nutrition represents a smaller but growing driver amongst some consumers.

“Red meat is extremely well positioned as a popular protein in Australian diets given it is enjoyed through such a variety of channels.

“Consumer data shows that approximately 60pc of red meat product is purchased in retail outlets to be consumed and enjoyed at home,” Ms Sharp said.

“The balance is sold through the vast food service channel with over around 23,000 businesses and 80,000 outlets nationwide and segments ranging from institutions to quick service restaurants to pubs through to fine dining, reflecting the breadth of cuts and versatility of use for red meat.”

Diabetes Queensland chief executive officer Sturt Eastwood said the State Government is demonstrating real leadership and helping Queenslanders prevent future health problems.

“The advertising restriction on unhealthy food and drink, including alcohol, will help all of us, particularly children and young people.

“Constant exposure to images of unhealthy food normalises those choices in our everyday lives,” he said.

“We all understand there are foods we should only eat ‘sometimes’, but that’s hard to remember when you’re constantly seeing ads emotionally promoting these foods on trains, bus stops, roadside billboards, even in hospitals and healthcare facilities, several times a day or more.

“Our children travelling to and from school are influenced by this advertising and we can do so much better. The State Government’s restrictions are a fantastic step forward on this journey.”

A Red Meat Advisory Council spokesperson said at this stage RMAC saw minimal impact on the industry coming from the Queensland Government decision.

“As providers of fresh food, we of course support the continued promotion and advertising of high quality and nutritious red meat and seek state and federal government support in this.

“We will continue to monitor the work of the Queensland Government and any impacts policy of this kind nation-wide has on Australia’s 82,500 red meat businesses and our loyal Australian customers,” the spokesperson said.

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