While the EU remains divided on the added value of nutrient profiling, the WHO has already started promoting it as a useful tool to restrict the marketing of unhealthy foods to children. In 2015 it adopted a nutrient profile model covering 17 food categories and setting thresholds for total fat, saturated fat, total sugars, added sugars and salt. Any product exceeding one of these thresholds should not be permitted for marketing to children. The WHO model faced fierce criticism from the food industry, yet some governments have already admitted they may incorporate it into national legislation (Switzerland, Slovenia).

The marketing and advertising of food to children in the EU is currently limited to voluntary industry-led codes of conduct, such as the EU Pledge. Encouraging industry self-regulation with regard to the advertising of foods high in salt, sugars or fat to children is also mentioned in a proposal for the revision of the Audiovisual Media Service Directive (AVMS) which is currently being discussed in the European Parliament with a view to voting on it in 2017. Again, it will be up to Member States regulators to decide on how to reduce children’s exposure to the audiovisual communications which do not fit national nutrition guidelines.

Would you like to find out more about restrictions on marketing of sugary foods? Join our sugar policy roundtable with Therese Comodini Cachia MEP on 9 November. 
Related contacts :
Authored by: Maria Linkova-Nijs