NDC Calls for Cheese Exemption to Proposed BAI Advertising Code

Broadcasting Authority of Ireland BAI Children's Commercial Communications Code Consultation Document August 2011

The National Dairy Council is calling on the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to exempt cheese from the BAI’s proposed ‘Children’s Commercial Communications Code’, which is open to public consultation until Friday 14th October 2011. The NDC has delivered a nutrition-based formal response to the BAI’s call for submissions under the public consultation process.

If implemented using Britain’s Nutrient Profiling Model, which the BAI proposes to adopt as a way of classifying food types, the Code could ban cheese broadcast advertising to children under the age of 18, based on the premise that cheese would be categorised as ‘less healthy’ than other food types, such as diet cola.

The British Nutrient Profiling Model proposed for adoption by the BAI does not fully take into account many of the positive nutrients offered by certain food groups and potential benefits of such nutrients in public health issues.

Potential for Consumer Confusion

Zoë Kavanagh, Chief Executive of The National Dairy Council says that the concept of potentially classifying cheese as a ‘less healthy’ food will inevitably result in misinformation and inaccuracies among the general public; confusion regarding healthy eating for parents and children at a time when healthy balanced diets should be promoted; and significant reputational damage to a food group which is an important part of our economy.

Dr. Catherine Logan, Nutrition Manager of The National Dairy Council says that the proposed nutrient profiling model that would categorise cheese as ‘less healthy’, contradicts dietary and health guidelines promoted by the State through the Department of Health’s Food Pyramid (Ref 1). Ironically the positive nutrients in cheese, such as calcium, that are ignored by the Proposed Nutrient Model, can help to tackle some of the public health issues highlighted by the BAI itself in its own Consultation Document.

Calcium Deficiences, Osteoporosis & Dental Health amongst Nutritional Issues Identified by BAI Working Group

“The BAI’s own Expert Working Group Report (BAI Consultation Document: P70) identified a number of key public health issues relating to nutrition of particular relevance to Irish children, including nutritional inadequacies,” explains Dr. Logan. “Calcium was listed amongst the most important nutrients lacking. This inadequacy is of particular concern among children and teenagers in this country due to its role in bone growth and development, with the majority of peak bone mass achieved by the late teens.” (Ref 2)

Cheese is recognised as an important source of calcium and can contribute to the recommended three portions of dairy per day advised for adults and children as part of a balanced diet in the Department of Health’s Food Pyramid (Ref 1), with teenagers advised to aim for five servings per day to support their increased calcium requirements.

Other key public health issues relating to nutrition of particular relevance to Irish children and identified by the BAI’s Expert Working Group include

  • Osteoporosis and anaemia due to inadequate intakes of vitamin D, calcium and iron;
  • Dental caries (tooth decay) - goals for reduction in 5 year olds have not yet been met.

Cheese being a source of calcium can assist in addressing inadequate calcium intakes and, thereby, the related concern of osteoporosis. Other nutrients present in cheese are also required for bone health. (Ref 3)

Cheese is also noted for its anti-cariogenic properties, which are likely to be a result of its nutritional content as well as its effect on salivary flow and subsequently oral pH. Numerous studies report a beneficial effect of cheese in relation to dental caries. (Ref 4)

Consistent Messaging about Balanced Diet Needed

"Looking at data from national surveys it's clear that cheese consumption remained relatively stable during the same time period in which the prevalence of overweight and obesity increased among Irish children and teenagers,” said Dr. Logan. (Table 2)

“Clear, consistent messages are essential to encourage healthy, balanced diets and to ensure that parents do not become confused about providing certain foods to their families which are a source of important nutrients,” concluded Dr. Logan.

NDC Chief Executive Zoë Kavanagh, commended the BAI for providing an opportunity to the public and the industry to contribute to the consultation process and encouraged interested parties to make a submission - click HERE for further information.

“In the context of an Irish economy, in deep recession, in 2010, total dairy exports rose by an estimated 17% to €2.3 billion,” said Ms. Kavanagh (Ref 5). She explains that because the dairy sector purchases its inputs in the Irish Economy dairy export growth has a 1.85 multiplier to the Irish Economy v 1.15 for the modern Economy sectors.

“Restricting the advertising of cheese in Ireland will directly undermine the development of the Irish cheese industry, an industry where a huge element growth is predicated in terms of exporting increased production of Irish cheese to international consumers,” said Ms. Kavanagh. “The positioning of cheese in this proposed regulation as, effectively, 'junk food' could create reputational issues which may take years to reverse.”


Click HERE or on individual Ref/Table numbers for Editorial Footnotes & References

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Media Enquiries to:

Antonina Ni Dhuinn, Progress Communications | 01-276 6117 | nina[at]progresspr[dot]ie |


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