Fianna Fáil has brought legislation before the Dáil today to ensure that food advertising and labelling contains calorie information in fast food. The bill, produced by Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher, requires fast food outlets to clearly display the ‘Calorie Count’ in items being advertised and sold.
Deputy Kelleher said: “I have produced the Advertising, Labelling and Presentation of Fast Food at Fast Food Outlets Bill 2011 as a response to the concern that is being raised about growing levels obesity in Ireland particularly among young people.
Last week a report Growing Up in Ireland, carried out by the National Longitudinal Study of Children, concluded there are very serious problems of obesity among children. Among the findings: 26% of nine-year-old children were found to have a body mass index (BMI) that was outside of the ‘healthy’ range. 19% of these were defined as overweight and 7% obese. Girls were significantly more likely to be overweight (22% v 19%) or obese (8% v 5%) than boys. – source: www.growingup.ie
Deputy Kelleher said: “This legislation will require the number of calories in fast food items to be displayed prominently on menus and in adverts along with the percentage of the suggested daily calorie intake that such items represent. The legislation covers all forms of advertising including radio and tv adverts.
“The provisions of this bill will allow for prosecutions to be pursued by the Food Safety Authority and fines of up to €3,000 euro.
“There is widespread concern among health professionals and parents about the rise in obesity. The impact on the future health of children is at stake and I am urging the Government and the Minister for Health James Reilly to accept this bill. I welcome Minister Róisín Shortall’s comments today that new Healthy Eating Guidelines for the public will be completed in the coming months.
“Aside from the enormous health impact of obesity there is a significant impact on the health service itself and the wider economy. We need a whole-Government approach to this issue, and there is a significant role for the Minister for Education. Through our schools we can foster a lifestyle shift to good nutrition and physical activity.”