Christmas Round Up: Food Heroes and Food Zeroes


1) Henry Dimbleby, John Vincent and Myles Bremner 


The School Food Plan was published in July, giving fresh impetus to the push for good food in all schools. We had concerns about the purpose of the Plan, and whether the Department for Education would get behind the recommendations. But the proof has been in the pudding, or in this case a 3 course buffet to be served in schools from September 2014: of (i) cooking and food nutrition back on the curriculum (ii) free school meals for all pupils in the first three years of primary school (iii) a re-commitment to mandatory standards for school food (though not yet applying to all academies and free schools). £150million has been made available to ensure that schools can build new kitchens or increase dining capacity where necessary, and additional money is being provided to help increase take-up of school meals and support breakfast clubs.



2) Dr Aseem Malhotra


Aseem is a cardiologist and is passionate about tackling the companies and policies responsible for creating such an obesogenic environment. We first worked together on Olympic sponsorship, and this year he’s used his media profile to draw attention to many of the issues we campaign on: from the weaknesses of the Responsibility Deal, to the choc-filled vending machines in hospitals, to the marketing of junk food to children. He is also a powerful advocate of a sugary drinks duty. 




3) Linda Hindle


The chair of the British Dietetic Association’s Dietitians in Obesity Management Specialist Group, Linda has been at the forefront of the renewed push for supermarkets to permanently remove sweets and chocolates from their checkouts and queuing areas. Linda has worked with us to develop the junk free checkouts campaign, galvanised a UK-wide network of dietitians in support, and has fronted up countless media interviews – including a spot on the BBC Breakfast sofa.


4) Susie Colville, Giulietta Durante and Claudia Damu


Our three amazing Children’s Food Campaign volunteers have produced much of the research which underpin our reports and campaigns. Susie drafted our submission to the Labour Party’s health policy forum. Giulietta helped with our submission to the curriculum review and now is pushing forward our junk free checkouts campaign. And Claudia is working on a comparison of the public health policies of the 4 nations of the UK, which we’ll be publishing in January.  A big thanks to each of them. 












1) The Advertising Standards Association


Two years on from extending the non-broadcast advertising rules to cover websites and social media, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is struggling to get to grips with its new role and is failing. Food companies continue to exploit loopholes and advertise junk foods to children online. The regulator’s approach continues to be inconsistent, secretive, biased towards companies with the money and time to challenge rulings, and focused on the letter rather than the spirit of the Code. These were the findings of our Through the Looking Glass report, launched in April. Discussions with the ASA since then have proved more positive, but we are still waiting for them to improve the rules and how they work.





2) Nestlé 


Nestlé has spent much of the past year and a half trying to stymie an ASA investigation into our complaint about its marketing of Nesquik. The Nesquik website promoted the product in a way that encouraged the impression that a high-sugar drink is “wholesome”, and something that children should drink every day. Yet a single portion of Nesquik contributes one quarter of a child’s recommended daily maximum intake of sugar.  Nestle succeeded in escaping official censure, but – faced with having to defend themselves publicly – they have now taken down the Nesquik webpages.






3) US food giants General Mills, Heinz, Coca-Cola, Mondelez & Kellogg’s


Many of the companies who were featured on our ‘labelling wall of shame’ for not signing up to the new traffic light front-of-pack nutritional labelling scheme are American-owned corporations. The US headquarters of these companies have been dragging their feet (or just being plain obstructive) about signing up their UK brands. It means that from 2014, when supermarkets start selling products with the new labels, millions of British consumers will be prevented from having the best nutrition advice on products. 





4) WHSmith


WHSmith is regularly cited as one of the worst offenders for promoting junk at the checkouts and is featured heavily on our checkouts wall of shame. We also receive emotional emails from WHSmith staff who love almost every aspect of their jobs but hate having to push £1 confectionery deals at the till and hand out McDonald’s vouchers to kids.


>> Write to WHSmith HQ to ask them to change their checkout practices.









(i) National Obesity Awareness Week 13-19 January 2014


(ii) International School Meals Day 6 March 2014