MPs call for clarity over powers of new Govt food regulator

MPs have urged the Government to clear up the confusion surrounding whether its proposed Foods Standards Agency will regulate food advertising.

MPs have urged the Government to clear up the confusion surrounding

whether its proposed Foods Standards Agency will regulate food

advertising.



An all-party Commons committee, which is examining the Government’s

plans, has demanded that ministers spell out their strategy more

clearly. Its intervention is a boost for the Advertising Association,

which is lobbying against the idea that the new watchdog should control

ads (Campaign, 5 March).



In a report, the Food Standards Committee said there was ’a potential

hole’ in the agency’s remit because the word ’advertising’ did not

appear in ministers’ plans.



’We would like the Government to explain what role in food advertising

the agency will have,’ it said.



The MPs recommended that the agency should ’provide expert advice to the

Advertising Standards Authority and other relevant bodies’.



Such a policy would leave the final decision on food ads to the ASA, the

Independent Television Commission and the Radio Authority, in line with

the AA’s wishes.



The Commons committee also addressed the ad industry’s concern that the

agency might run ’healthy eating’ campaigns urging consumers to shun

certain products.



It agreed there was a danger of duplicating the work of the Department

of Health and the Health Education Authority, and said that ministers

had not adequately thought through their plans.



Tessa Jowell, the Minister for Public Health, told MPs she saw the

agency’s function as being ’principally health protection rather than

health promotion’.



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