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Last Updated: Friday, 29 July 2005, 11:06 GMT 12:06 UK
'Simple' junk food scoring plan
Image of crisps
Ofcom is expected to draw up new rule for junk food ads this year
A simple scorecard to identify junk foods has been proposed by the food watchdog.

The Food Standards Agency system rates the nutritional balance of food and drinks by taking into account the salt, sugar, fat, fibre and protein content.

It has been drawn up to help the TV regulator Ofcom tighten the rules on junk food advertising for children.

But industry representatives warned "simplistic" measures were of no use to consumers.

Ofcom are expected to publish a consultation on how it plans to change the rules on TV advertising by the end of the year after November's Public Health White Paper demanded stricter regulations by early 2007.

Energy, salt, fat and sugar content given marks out of 10 to get A points total per 100g
Fibre, protein, and fruit and vegetable content rated out of five to get C points total per 100g
A points total minus C points to get overall score
Food scoring four points or more, or drinks with a point or more classed as unhealthy

Under the FSA system, which did not name any particular products, any food with more than four points and drink with more than one per 100g is rated as unhealthy.

Each product is given a rating out of 10 for its fat, sugar, salt and energy content.

Marks out of five are given for healthy content such as protein, fibre and fruit and vegetables.

The healthy score is then deducted from the unhealthy score to get the overall rating.


The FSA said: "The model uses a simple scoring system that rates the overall balance of nutrients in the food.

"This means the model identifies foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar but recognises the importance of fruit and vegetables, cereal, meat and dairy-based products in the diet."

However, reports have suggested some popular cereals would be classed as unhealthy, while burgers would get a score of under four.

Dr Joanne Lunn, a nutrition scientists at the British Nutrition Foundation, said it was not easy to draw up such a system, but praised the FSA model for taking into account positive nutrition content.

"It is important to bear in mind that common perceptions about what is and isn't healthy aren't always reflected by the facts.

"It is well recognised that some cereals, even high fibre cereals, are high in sodium which will influence their final score."

Martin Paterson, deputy director general of the Food and Drink Federation, said: "Simplistic approaches which label foods good or bad without taking account of actual consumption behaviour will be irrelevant to real consumers' lives."

Call for junk food ad 'balance'
02 Jun 05 |  Health

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