Thursday, 26 March 2009

World Consumer Rights Day 2009 - Highlights from around the world

World Consumer Rights Day took place on Sunday, 15 March this year – Justin, Macmullan, CI’s Head of Campaigns, reflects on the day’s activities and highlights:

‘If anyone still questions whether the marketing of junk food to children is a global issue, then World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) 2009 has given the clearest possible answer.

This year more than 60 CI members from four continents took part in WCRD with public meetings, street stalls, performances and much more. Consumers around the world saw their organisations collecting signatures for the global campaign, raising awareness and attracting media attention.

New research from several organisations also highlighted how food companies are continuing to promote food that is high in fat, sugar or salt to children, despite growing concerns about rising levels of obesity and overweight in children.

With the World Health Organization (WHO) expected to release their draft recommendations on the marketing of food to children in the next couple of weeks, CI members have put the call for an effective international code centre stage for consumers, the media and governments.

CI used the day to launch a report, New media, same old tricks, highlighting how food companies continue to market food high in fat, sugar and salt on their own websites using games, free downloads and online clubs.

Guest blogs on CI’s Junk Food Generation campaign blog, included contributions from Ed Mayo at Consumer Focus in the UK and Jeff Chester from the Centre for Digital Democracy in the US underlined the dangers of online marketing of food to children. Whilst Luisa Villa's entry about a clever online film showed how consumer organisation Altroconsumo is fighting back in Italy.

The following are just some of the highlights from around the world:

  • In Brazil, new research from IDEC showed that several international food companies are continuing to market food to children in Brazil, despite their having banned such practices in Europe. IDEC held a large meeting to release the results and will be writing to the companies calling on them to adopt the same standards in Brazil as they do elsewhere.

  • In Armenia, ANNA held a supermarket sweep. The activity involved asking children what they would choose from the supermarket shelves if they were doing the shopping. Whilst some children chose healthy options, the bright packaging and marketing of some unhealthy products certainly attracted some of the young consumers.

  • In Australia, CHOICE also revealed in a new report that children continue to be exposed to a high volume of junk food ads during the television programs they watch most. In the Choice test more than half of the food adverts aired between 6am and 9pm failed a healthy food test.’

Visit the Junk Food Generation website for more highlights and member activities on the day.

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