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Will The National Food Alliance's call for tighter regulation on food advertising to children succeed? Donu Kogbara looks at the organisation's burgeoning influence
Thou shalt not consume two bars of chocolate on TV. Thou shalt not covet Harry Enfield's supermarket trolley full of Dime bars. The Independent Television Commission introduced these, and other, commandments to its Code of Advertising Standards and Practice last month, taking its lead from the consumer protectionist organisation, the National Food Alliance.
The bad news for food advertisers and their agencies is that the NFA has ambitions, which are beginning to be realised, to bring about further regulation on the advertising of "unhealthy foods". Its grand plan is, nobly, to improve the dietary intake of Britons; its ill-chosen target is advertising.
The ITC's Code, according to the NFA, doesn't go far enough and it would like children's TV to become an "advertisement-free zone". "The ITC has failed to address the cumulative effects of broadcast advertising on children," says Susan Dibb, the NFA's project officer.
The NFA describes itself as an "association of voluntary, professional, health, consumer and other public interest organisations". Its support comes from a diverse range of members and endorsers, from the British Dental Association and Children's Society to Friends of the Earth and the Vegetarian Society. It is partly funded by the Department of Health and Health Education Authority, and claims to broadly echo parental, medical and governmental concerns about health and diet.
Another source of income for the NFA had, until last week, been the Baring Foundation (an offshoot of Baring Brothers, Britain's oldest and now ruined merchant bank). The foundation had been paying for the NFA's controversial Food Advertising …