Tuesday, 12 June 2018
Department of Health
728. To ask the Minister for Health the penalties applying to breaches of the codes of practice for non-broadcast media advertising and marketing of food and non-alcoholic beverages, including sponsorship and retail product placement; the reason the codes are voluntary and not compulsory; the proportion of the food industry and relevant media that is signed up to them; the basis on which the broadcast media are excluded from the provisions of the codes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24894/18]
729. To ask the Minister for Health the codes of practice in place specifically to ensure that foods high in fat, sugar and salt are marketed and advertised in a responsible way in broadcast media; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24895/18]
731. To ask the Minister for Health the companies that have signed up to the codes of practice for non-broadcast media advertising and marketing of food and non-alcoholic beverages, including sponsorship and retail product placement; and the companies that have withdrawn from the codes. [24898/18]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 728, 729 and 731 together.
The national Obesity Policy and Action Plan (OPAP) was approved by the Government in 2016. The OPAP recommended that a code of practice for food and beverages promotion, marketing and sponsorship be developed, implemented and evaluated in conjunction with the food industry, HSE, Dept of Children and Youth Affairs, safefood, Food Safety Authority of Ireland and advertiser organisations. The OPAP premised this recommendation by providing that 'already there are many examples of the food industry making positive contributions to the prevention of obesity and it is essential to capitalise and expand on such initiatives'.
On this basis, the group that developed and agreed the Codes involved representatives from the food industry (IBEC, Food Drink Ireland, Retail Ireland), advertising sector (Association of Advertisers in Ireland, Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland, Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland), statutory agencies, and various Government Departments. It was chaired by the former CEO of the statutory Food Safety Authority of Ireland.
I launched the Codes in February. Their overall objective is to reduce exposure of the Irish population to marketing initiatives relating to foods that are high in fat, sugar and/or salt.
The Codes of Practice are one of the suite of actions set out in the OPAP in the knowledge that no single sector or agency, or no single action, is able to solve this issue on its own. Everyone and every sector have a role to play in those solutions. They apply to non-broadcast media given that the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) is the regulator of broadcasting in Ireland with its own Children's Commercial Communications Code.
Section 10 of the Codes of Practice provides for a governance framework for these codes. It stipulates that the Codes will be monitored for compliance and effectiveness by a Monitoring Body designated by the Minister for Health. Work on this designation is underway.
The Monitoring Body will maintain and publish a register of signatories of companies and partner organisations that will sign up to the Codes. Section 10 adds that complaint procedures will be an integral part of the agreed Codes of Practice and that it will have the responsibility to investigate any complaint submitted and seek remedial action if necessary. The Monitoring Body shall produce an annual report for the Minister which shall cover effectiveness and complaints. All complaints upheld will be published.