After the reports of the government cracking down on junk food advertisements on cartoon channels emerged on Thursday, the government has cleared the air and said that there is no such proposal at present. However, it also added that nine major food business operators have decided not to advertise products with high fat on children’s channels. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, MoS, I&B Ministry, said in Parliament that companies including Hindustan Unilever and Nestle have agreed to refrain from such advertisements on cartoon channels.
Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore told the Lok Sabha during Question Hour that bodies like the Food and Beverage Alliance of India (FBIA) have already decided to voluntarily restrict food and beverage advertisements concerning children. On whether the government proposes to impose a ban on telecast of junk food and cold/soft drinks advertisements on television, Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani said in a written reply that “presently there is no such proposal”.
Childhood obesity is a rising problem and that has caused widespread concern among parents and authorities. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had constituted an expert group to address the issue of high fat, sugar and salt foods, as per a PTI report.
Notably, weeks ago, the government had ordered TV channels not to air advertisements selling and promoting condoms between 6 am to 10 pm because these are “indecent, especially for children” and can create “unhealthy practices” among them. “It has been brought to the notice of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting that some channels carry advertisements of condoms repeatedly which are alleged to be indecent especially for children,” an advisory from the ministry had said.