Consumer ministers want to protect children from unhealthy food advertising

The consumer protection ministers of the federal states have spoken out in favor of a complete ban on advertising unhealthy food to children. The federal government is being asked to initiate such a ban “within the scope of its regulatory competence,” according to a corresponding resolution from the conference of consumer protection ministers in Weimar, which was finalized on Friday.

It is of great concern that “currently more than 15 percent of children and young people in Germany are overweight or obese, which increases the risk of complications such as diabetes, joint problems, high blood pressure and heart disease”, said.

Federal Food Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens) welcomed the decision. Nutritional preferences “are largely formed in childhood,” the ministry said of him. Therefore, the regulation of the advertising of foods with a high content of sugar, fat or salt aimed at children is “an important starting point to avoid food-related diseases”.

The consumer organization Foodwatch called on Özdemir to present a law “without loopholes”. With well-known social media influencers and colorful commercials, the food industry primarily sells sugar bombs and greasy snacks to children.

The German food association, on the other hand, said education and information was needed rather than a ban. These are “token policies”, there is “no causal connection between looking at food advertisements and the development of obesity”.

In addition, the ministers of state in Weimar defended more favorable framework conditions for the consumer in many other resolutions. A good and reliable consumer protection policy is “more important than ever”, also in view of the consequences of the coronavirus crisis and the war in Ukraine, explained Dirk Adams (Greens) for the presidency of Thuringia together with the head of the Saar department, Petra Berg. (SPD), Hamburg Senator for Consumer Protection Anna Gallina (Greens) and Schleswig-Holstein Minister for Consumer Protection Claus Christian Claussen (CDU).

At a press conference, Adams emphasized that the Thuringian report on the reparation bond, which was recently introduced in the Free State for the second time, had been received with great interest. There have been “very, very good experiences” here, he said. The program provides that Thuringians who have a faulty appliance repaired can claim reimbursement for half of the repair costs, up to a maximum of €100 per person per calendar year.

Saarland department head Berg particularly emphasized the social consequences of the current price increases. “The big energy price shock will only hit people in the winter,” he said. “This mainly affects low- and middle-income people.” Therefore, among other things, consumers who already have high energy debts need “fair installment agreements with energy providers.”

The Federal Minister for Consumer Protection, Steffi Lemke (Greens), referred in Weimar to the strengthening of consumer rights in the digital space, for example, through the so-called cancellation button. It should be “as easy to revoke a contract as it is to terminate it,” she said. The states asked the federal government to campaign for such an electronic button at a European level.

They also advocated “a complete or partial abolition” of the sales tax on staple foods to relieve consumers of rising food prices. “The focus is mainly on fruits, vegetables and legumes,” explained Senator Gallina from Hamburg. “A balanced diet should not fail because of costs.”

At the request of Schleswig-Holstein, the federal government was also asked to work at the European level to strengthen compensation claims for delayed and canceled flights. The goal is for claims to be reimbursed within two business days. “We want consumers not only to be entitled to payment, but to actually get their money, and as quickly as possible,” State Consumer Protection Minister Claussen emphasized.

Published: 06/17/2022 – Source: Agence-France-Presse

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