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Masterfoods vows to cut kids marketing

By Catherine Boal , 07-Feb-2007

The owner of Mars and Snickers chocolate brands, Masterfoods, has pledged to stop marketing its products to children younger than 12 - a move that is sure to increase consumer confidence in the brand and appease advertising regulators.

By the end of this year, the chocolate company will call a halt to all advertising of its core confectionery and snack brands to youngsters below the age of 12.

There are currently no global restrictions on snack marketing to children but Masterfoods is unusual in setting the bar so high as many companies currently either have no in-house policy or set the age limit at around eight.

In a letter to the European Commission's director-general for health and consumer protection Robert Madelin, Masterfoods said it would apply its new policy to advertising, media and new media.

According to a report in the Financial Times earlier this week, the company stated in the letter: "We have decided to make an official policy change to a cut-off age of 12 years for all our core products."

Advertising has long been a contentious issue within the snack industry with government, consumer organisations and health bodies putting pressure on manufacturers to take responsibility for rising consumption of unhealthy products.

The current UK restrictions on junk food advertising were announced at the end of last year by independent communications regulator Ofcom to prevent advertisers targeting under 16s with promotions for food and drinks high, in fats, salts and sugars.

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