BAC views the federal government’s recent proposal to ban the marketing of “unhealthy foods” to children as fraught with contradictions and raising more questions than answers. Specifically BAC has questioned: Quebec, the only province that restricts advertising to children, defines a child as under the age of 13. Health Canada however is proposing that the definition of a child should be under the age of 17. However, this is contradictory to other rights enjoyed by those above 13 across Canada including: • A 14-year-old can apply and work as an employee in a fast food service restaurant, or in convenience/grocery stores selling foods that would be restricted from marketing to children by this consultation. • A person 14-17 years old can make decisions on their own health care including decisions on reproductive rights. • A 16-year-old is able to drive a motor vehicle. The scope of the proposed marketing restrictions is also a contradiction. According to Health Canada the purpose of these restrictions is to prevent the marketing to children of unhealthy foods which are those that contain inappropriate levels of saturated fat, sugars or sodium. However, Health Canada also admits that the “occasional treat can be part of a healthy lifestyle”. Health Canada has not explained how an occasional treat can be part of a healthy lifestyle and at the same time must be banned from advertising. The proposal also raised questions regarding potential new legislated changes to packaging design. Food packaging is designed to differentiate products from competitors and to appeal to the primary shoppers. Yet Health Canada appears to want to put new restrictions on the vast majority of food product labels under the guise of this proposal. One of the major unanswered questions in Health Canada’s proposal is how it plans to enforce its marketing and advertising bans. As an example, online marketing, one of the focuses of this proposal, originates from jurisdictions beyond Canada’s border. BAC has called on Health Canada, in the interest of openness and transparency, to make public its enforcement plan to restrict internationally based online marketing from being seen by Canadian children with specific reference to international agreements that allow Canadian officials to extend Canadian legal jurisdiction to foreign domains.
Published by Annex Bakers Journal. View All Articles.