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Obesity group still devising monitoring mechanism for advertising code of practice

Work developing a mechanism to monitor the codes of practice on the marketing and advertising of food and non-alcoholic beverages has not been completed almost a year after being identified as a priority by an oversight group examining the area, this newspaper has learned.

At  an Obesity Policy Implementation Oversight Group (OPIOG) meeting last May, the issue of establishing a monitoring body and mechanism for the codes of practice was mentioned. The minutes of the meeting have been seen by the Medical Independent (MI) following a Freedom of Information request.

The voluntary codes of practice for the advertising and marketing of food and non-alcoholic beverages was launched in February 2018. According to the Department of Health, the purpose of the codes, which have been agreed with the food industry, is to ensure that foods high in fat, salt and sugar are marketed in a responsible way.

 “Under the umbrella of the national oversight group, OPIOG, work is continuing on the development of the monitoring mechanism for the codes of practice on the marketing and advertising of food and non-alcoholic beverages,” a spokesperson for the Department of Health told MI. “The development of technical guidance on the codes is part of this work. The codes aim to moderate the exposure of the general population, and particularly children, to foods high in fat, salt and sugar.”

The spokesperson did not provide a date for when this work is expected to be finalised.

“The development of codes of practice for food and drinks promotion, marketing, sponsorship and product placement is one of the 10 steps forward recommended in the National Obesity Policy and Action Plan,” said the spokesperson. “It is the aggregate of all the actions together that we are taking to combat obesity that will deliver our desired reduction in overweight and obesity in the long run.”

The OPIOG met on three occasions in 2018. The group, which is chaired by the Department of Health, is comprised of representatives from numerous other Government departments; University College Cork; the Food Safety Authority of Ireland; the HSE — including the National Clinical Lead for Obesity; and safefood.

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