Food watchdog junk food list puts cereal and takeaway ads at risk

LONDON - A raft of food brands including McDonald's and Walkers could find their ads banned before 9pm, after the Food Standards Agency published the UK's first official definition of junk food.

The FSA has launched a consultation into the proposed guide, which for the first time assesses whether a food is unhealthy based on a points system on its saturated fat, salt and sugar content.

It has been produced to help Ofcom as its considers restrictions on when unhealthy foods can be shown, including a possible ban during children's programming or before 9pm.

Ads for junk food could also be forced to carry warnings about their unhealthy ingredients.

According to the FSA, foods set to fall foul of the points system include corn flakes, bran cereal, sugar-coated puffed oats, takeaway chicken nuggets and hamburgers, white chocolate, salted peanuts, potato crisps and cola and lemonade drinks.

Products set to be given the all-clear include skimmed milk, orange juice and muesli.

The UK Advertising Association's food advertising unit's director Jeremy Preston has urged the FSA to ensure the effect of changes to firms' commercial interests is taken into account.

He said that the advertising industry has been actively engaged in reviewing the advertising codes to reflect consumer concerns and will be participating in discussion with Ofcom.

"We will be considering the FSA's proposals accordingly, but it is important that any restrictions based on this model are proportionate to ensure a balance between business needs and consumer protection," Preston said.

The deadline for responses to the FSA consultation is September 26.

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