Press Release

Minister Corcoran Kennedy co-hosts meeting of WHO European Action Networks on Salt and on Reducing Marketing Pressure to Children

New Irish code of practice on marketing, product placement and sponsorship of high fat, salt and sugar foods to children and adults to be published shortly

Minister of State for Health Promotion Marcella Corcoran Kennedy today welcomed delegates from all over Europe to the annual WHO European Action Networks on Salt and on Reducing Marketing Pressure to Children. The Minister also told the gathering that the new Irish code of practice on marketing, product placement and sponsorship of high fat, salt and sugar foods to children and adults will be published shortly.

Minister Corcoran Kennedy said “This is an important event and I welcome the detailed discussion by European experts which will take place over the next few days on innovative approaches to measure salt intake and using a variety of research data to devise salt targets. I also welcome the discussion on reducing marketing pressure on children. In Ireland the intake of high fat, salt and sugar foods is too high among children and a key message as part of my Department’s Healthy Food For Life campaign is to manage these foods by not having them every day, having smaller portion sizes and replacing sugar sweetened drinks with water.”

The Minister said, “The WHO has predicted that Ireland is on course to become the most obese nation in Europe, unless action is taken now. That is why my Department recently launched the 10 year plan: A Healthy Weight for Ireland: Obesity Policy and Action Plan. The plan requires action across multiple sectors and addresses reduction of food high in fat, salt and sugar by reformulation and reducing marketing pressure on children.”

The Minister acknowledged the positive work of the Food Safety Authority and Food Industry Ireland, together with Retail Ireland, in implementing a voluntary salt reduction initiative in Ireland since 2003. She said, “It is very welcome that over a ten year period the FSAI salt reduction programme yielded some significant reductions in the salt content of many processed food such as cereal, breads and some processed meats.”

The Minister said, “In Ireland we have a good track record on restricting marketing to children of these foods in the Broadcast media, being the first country in the world to ban celebrity endorsement of high fat, salt and sugar foods and drinks. However, we still have a way to go and our next focus will be to press for a 9pm watershed on HFSS foods advertising on TV and Radio.”

The Minister told the gathering that over the last 18 months her Department has been working with the FSAI, Food Industry, Advertisers and other key stakeholders on developing a new Code of Practice on marketing, product placement and sponsorship of HFSS food to children and adults. The Minister said, “I have just received the final draft of the Code this week and will consider its recommendations with a view to launching it next month. I understand that our code with guidelines on sponsorship will be a global first!”

The Minister thanked the FSAI for co–hosting the Network meetings and said she is looking forward to incorporating the recommendations from the Network meetings into Department of Health actions on preventing and reducing childhood obesity.