October 10th, 2005
UK Celebrity Chefs Want Junk Food Adverts Banned
Celebrity chefs and food writers have called for a ban on junk food advertising during children’s TV programmes.
In an open letter to Tony Blair, more than 20 food writers and broadcasters said the Government should end advertising and promotions which present junk food to children as “positive and desirable” choices
Signatories to the letter include chefs and food writers such as Gary Rhodes, Rick Stein and Sophie Grigson.
The letter calls on Mr Blair to support the Children’s Food Bill to protect children from being targeted by junk food advertisers.
Food knowledge scandal
The bill also calls for practical food education to become part of the school curriculum for every child to stop the “scandal of children leaving school knowing only how to open a packet or a tin”.
Recent figures showed that one in four youngsters aged 13 to 17 in England is overweight or obese.
The letter comes after Education Secretary Ruth Kelly announced last month that junk food would be banned from school canteens and vending machines.
School meals will have to meet strict new standards, cutting fat, salt, and sugar and boosting fibre, protein and vitamin levels.
Ms Kelly has also announced plans for all secondary school pupils to be taught how to cook a healthy meal.
Adverts encourage ‘pester power’
The Children’s Food Bill, sponsored by MP Mary Creagh, has cross-party support from more than 200 MPs and 150 national organisations.
Ms Creagh, MP for Wakefield, said: “Parents are tired of being pestered to buy unhealthy foods at supermarkets because their children recognise Bart Simpson or Shrek on the packet.
“Young people need to be educated about food so that they can make informed decisions about their diet which they can take into adult life.”
Sophie Grigson, an award-winning food writer, said: “As well as presenting good appetising food on their plates, we must protect children from advertisements which promote unhealthy food and drinks, and make sure they learn the skills that enable them to prepare delicious healthy food from fresh ingredients.”
Publication of the letter takes place to coincide with National School Meals Week and the Children’s Food Bill launch in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
The reforms followed a high-profile campaign from TV chef Jamie Oliver, who demanded extra cash for schools to spend on better ingredients and more training for dinner ladies.
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