Orkla does not support the Government’s proposal of new regulations on marketing aimed at children and youth.
On 7 June 2012, the Ministry of Health and Care Services, in cooperation with the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, circulated for consultative comment draft regulations on the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children and young people.
Orkla has submitted a consultation statement to the ministries, stating its opinion that the Government’s proposal must be withdrawn.
“We agree that overweight and obesity are a major social problem. However, we do not agree that the solution to the obesity problem is to introduce a ban on marketing products in relevant categories. For all practical purposes, the draft Regulations, in their current form, are a total prohibition,” says Håkon Mageli, Executive Vice President, Corporate Communications and Corporate Affairs.
Mageli points out that the industry has already adapted to the WHO recommendations from 2010 concerning the marketing of energy-dense, nutrient-poor products. Moreover, Orkla’s companies have worked systematically to develop products containing less saturated fat, sugar and salt.
“In 2007, the industry drew up voluntary Norwegian guidelines for marketing aimed at children. We at Orkla are committed to providing good information about our products and to responsible marketing. The overall contribution made by our products towards reducing Norwegian households’ intake of these nutrients in the last couple of decades has been significant,” emphasises Mageli.
Contrary to the EEA Agreement
Executive Vice President, Legal Affairs, Karl Otto Tveter, relates that Orkla has assessed two legal issues. The first concerns the question whether a proposal as radical as this can be introduced in the form of regulations from the Ministry, or whether the matter must be considered by the Norwegian parliament (the Storting), as the legislative body. The second question is whether the proposal is in conformance with the EEA Agreement at all.
“Our assessments answer both questions in the negative: There is no legal authority for such regulations in current legislation, and a possible ban on this type of marketing is contrary to Norway’s obligations under EEA law. In Orkla’s opinion, the ministries should instead consider further developing the voluntary guidelines in collaboration with the industry and, if relevant, consider supervisory measures and possible sanctions,” Tveter concludes.