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Accord tackles health and nutrition issues

September 2, 2004

Food Industry Accord a commitment to tackling health and nutrition issues

A ground-breaking Food Industry Accord is the best contribution companies and organisations working in the industry can make to encourage New Zealanders to eat in moderation a balanced diet, the executive director of the Association of New Zealand Advertisers, Jeremy Irwin, said today.

The Accord was launched and signed by industry representatives at a function in Parliament hosted by the Minister of Health, the Hon Annette King, this evening.

Mr Irwin said the association (ANZA), has worked with a group of food industry representatives to draft the accord document, which has been endorsed by major participants in the food industry.

“The food industry, in its widest sense, accepts that obesity is a significant threat to the health of the nation,” said Mr Irwin.

“But we don’t accept that there is a simplistic answer such as the imposition of taxes or advertising restrictions.

“All the research we have seen indicates that the issue is a complex one that can only effectively be tackled by all the interested parties working together. To our knowledge, the Accord is a world first in terms of industry demonstrating its commitment to being part of the process.”

Mr Irwin said the Accord does not seek to be prescriptive. Rather, it asks industry to commit to endorsing broad objectives and undertaking specific initiatives that are consistent with the Ministry of Health’s Healthy Eating, Healthy Action initiative.

He said a number of industry groups had already become involved in specific initiatives, including:

A review by the Advertising Standards Authority of its codes for advertising to children and the advertising of food to determine whether these codes need to be updated.

Cooperation between the National Heart Foundation and the food industry to tackle sodium levels in lower cost, packaged foods.

A joint initiative by the food industry and the Counties Manukau District Health Board involving Counties Manukau becoming the national pilot site for the New Zealand Food Industry Accord.

An educational project which aims to encourage healthy eating. Willie Munchrite is an initiative involving industry and the Health Ministry.

“We are aware from the experience in many other developed countries that the health and nutrition debate can become polarised. The creation and signing of the Accord has attracted the attention of some predictable detractors.

“But our experience in New Zealand has generally been more positive in that interested parties have been prepared to engage in meaningful discussion on the issue.

“We are confident that the Accord can assist this process. We look forward to discussing it with a wide variety of interested parties as we seek answers to an issue that affects the nation’s health.”

Mr Irwin said signatories to the Accord include food manufacturers, distributors, retailers, advertisers and media. There had been no attempt to form a representative body but ANZA had agreed to play a coordinating role.

ENDS


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