Vöm weighs in on Austrian advertising bans

The Austrian Council of Ministers is deciding on key points for the further procedure in the implementation of an underlying EU directive, which deals with the protection of children in online advertising. As a result, science-based guidelines are to be developed by a committee of experts.

“Advertising bans for milk and dairy products are the wrong way to go, when it comes to improving nutrition in Austria. Milk and dairy products are very high-quality foods due to their natural composition and, in addition to the main ingredients protein, lactose and milk fat, contain many desirable vitamins and minerals, the consumption of these products should therefore be encouraged,” states president of the Association of Austrian Milk Processors (VÖM) Helmut Petschar.

In Austria, voluntary agreements have so far proven their worth. The advertising bans proposal from the National Nutrition Commission (NEK), an advisory body in the Ministry of Health, has caused heated discussions. The consultations will continue.

This proposal provides for national advertising bans for milk with more than 3.5% total sugar, where milk already contains approximately 4.8% milk sugar due to its natural composition. This would include all fat levels, including skimmed milk, cocoa milk and mixed milk drinks.

For fruit yogurts, 10% total sugar is suggested. The Austrian dairy industry only agreed on a voluntary reduction to 11.5% with the ‘BM Gesundheit’ last year.

Advertising for milk and dairy products with over 3.6% fat have also been recommended to be banned, which means that school milk from direct marketers with natural fat content is also included, especially since school milk farmers do not adjust their fat. This also applies to organic milk with a natural fat content.

VÖM says such nutritional profiles, once established, will be used for further advertising restrictions/bans. It is also noticeable that, in contrast to milk, for plant drinks the proposal does not include any restrictions on additives or higher sugar specifications.

With these proposals by the NEK a large part of the dairy products in the area of online advertising would be included and as a result of these nutritional profiles/criteria further restrictions would be feared for the natural product milk, but also for most milk drinks, fruit yogurts, etc.

“The Austrian dairy industry demands that these proposals will be changed or withdrawn accordingly and that scientifically based guidelines be developed, which do justice to the high quality of milk as a food,” Petschar says.

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