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London's New Ad Ban on Public Transport Equates Olive Oil to Junk Food

Olive oil producers who wish to advertise their products within London's transportation network would first need to seek an exemption to new rules banning products that lead to obesity.

London Underground
Mar. 20, 2019
By Costas Vasilopoulos
London Underground

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In an effort to tackle child­hood obe­sity, the city of Lon­don has decided to ban food and drinks that are high in fat, sugar, or salt (HFSS) from appear­ing in adver­tise­ments on its pub­lic trans­port sys­tem.

The ad ban, which went into effect on Feb­ru­ary 25, was Mayor Sadiq Khan’s response to the research of Pub­lic Health Eng­land, which showed that more than 37 per­cent of 10 and 11-year-old chil­dren in Lon­don are over­weight.

Olive oil is not banned out­right, but we have restric­tions in place for prod­ucts that are HFSS. Prod­ucts such as olive oil are defined by the nutri­ent pro­fil­ing model as HFSS prod­ucts.- Spokesper­son for TfL

Child obe­sity is putting the lives of young Lon­don­ers at risk and plac­ing huge pres­sure on our already strained health ser­vice,” Khan said. It is absolutely imper­a­tive that we take tough action against this tick­ing time bomb now, and reduc­ing expo­sure to junk food adver­tis­ing has a role to play in this.”

The move is endorsed by many, includ­ing celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and var­i­ous action groups, such as the Obe­sity Health Alliance, a coali­tion of more than 40 orga­ni­za­tions aim­ing to reduce obe­sity lev­els.

See more: Olive Oil Health News

The ban pre­vents foods such as burg­ers, French fries, hot­dogs and many other unhealthy snacks and cook­ing ingre­di­ents from appear­ing in ads in the Trans­port for Lon­don (TfL) net­work based on a nutri­ent pro­fil­ing model score, which is man­aged by Pub­lic Health Eng­land.

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The pro­fil­ing model pro­duces a score for each food accord­ing to the nutri­ents it con­tains per 100 grams (3.5 ounces) and deter­mines whether it is an HFSS prod­uct or not.

This means that com­mon cook­ing ingre­di­ents, such as soy sauce, but­ter, eggs and even olive oil, will face the adver­tise­ment ban.

There is also a list released by TfL of foods that are of par­tic­u­lar con­cern for obe­sity pre­ven­tion due to their calo­rie load, includ­ing bread filled with olives.

Crit­ics argue that the major­ity of TfL pas­sen­gers are adults and warned that the restric­tion will cause seri­ous dam­age to TfL’s finances due to the imposed bar­ri­ers on prod­ucts eli­gi­ble for adver­tis­ing.

Andrew Boff, a mem­ber of the Lon­don Assem­bly who was autho­rized to scru­ti­nize the may­or’s activ­i­ties, spoke of a reck­less” move at a time in which TfL faces a big deficit. He added that not only junk food will be impacted by the ban.

It is not just junk food adverts which will be banned; Lon­don­ers will not be allowed to see adverts for every­day items, such as olive oil, stock cubes, and pesto,” he said.

With the new sys­tem, the onus is on the adver­tiser to demon­strate, in case of a doubt, that a prod­uct is non-HFSS com­pli­ant, should they want to dis­play it in posters and bill­boards in the under­ground and else­where.

A spokesper­son from TfL told Olive Oil Times that the pro­fil­ing model they use rec­og­nizes the ben­e­fits of a bal­anced diet, includ­ing pro­tein, fiber, fruit, veg­eta­bles and nuts.

It also iden­ti­fies food with ingre­di­ents which chil­dren should reduce in their diet, such as sat­u­rated fat, salt and sugar,” the spokesper­son said. If a prod­uct is deemed to be an HFSS prod­uct, then it can­not be used in adver­tis­ing in TfL’s net­work unless it has been granted an excep­tion.”

As far as olive oil is con­cerned, the spokesper­son spec­i­fied that it falls into the HFSS food cat­e­gory and there­fore is not cur­rently allowed to be shown in adver­tise­ments.

Olive oil is not banned out­right, but we have restric­tions in place for prod­ucts that are HFSS,” the spokesper­son said. Prod­ucts such as olive oil are defined by the nutri­ent pro­fil­ing model as HFSS prod­ucts.”

How­ever, the spokesper­son clar­i­fied that an exemp­tion from the ad ban for olive oil is almost cer­tain with the proper jus­ti­fi­ca­tion.

If brands that have these prod­ucts [olive oil] want to adver­tise them on the TfL estate, we would be happy to receive an appli­ca­tion for an excep­tion based on the prod­uct not being con­sumed by chil­dren or pro­mot­ing an HFSS diet,” the spokesper­son said. With clear infor­ma­tion, we would fully expect them to get an excep­tion.”

The spokesper­son also con­firmed that TfL has not yet received any excep­tion appli­ca­tions for olive oil.





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