Is milk really too harmful to be advertised?

Whilst in no way a fan of an over-riding nanny state (and in apparent contrast to much of the political blogosphere) the Poorhouse is far from averse to seeing a bit of regulation thrust upon greedy, harmful and otherwise unaccountable businesses from those that are supposed to represent our societal interests.

The recent ban on TV junk food adverts aimed at young children therefore seems to be plausibly sensible in principle. In fact a total advertising ban would be nice in many ways but the Poorhouse realises that's not going to happen. However with obesity et al. reaching record heights, why not stop marketers of foods that add to the health problem from trying to brainwash 5-year-olds? Nevertheless, it was with rather some surprise that the Poorhouse heard that these foods-of-evil would include milk.

The Food Standards Agency publishes guidelines on what is and what is not acceptable to be advertised under the ban. These rules say that milk is fine. In fact, the FSA advises parents to give their children milk, and when they are only a few years old they advise full-fat is the best type for them. They say:

Milk and dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais are great sources of protein and vitamins A, B12, and D. They're also an important source of calcium, which helps to keep our bones strong.

It turns out though that full-fat milk from ASDA - specifically - falls foul of these guidelines and is therefore banned. Apparently ASDA milk is "different" that whatever milk the Food Standards Agency are more used to. To be fair to ASDA, this does seem rather unlikely insomuch as, whilst they no doubt use the exploitative and ethically dubious practices that big supermarket monstrosities apparently like to participate in, there isn't much reason to believe they'd get their milk from anywhere that other such chains would. The Poorhouse is unaware of ASDA Walmart owning any experimental farms, for instance. Which is exactly one of the arguments that ASDA have used against the FSA claims.

ASDA claim to have tested other supermarket's milk, which presumably is permitted to be advertised, and found that it too doesn't meet the guidelines. It sounds like a bit of a standstill at present, with ASDA - seemingly reasonably, much as it pains the Poorhouse to side with powerful corporate giants over those supposedly caring for our well-being (Don't laugh. This is presumably their job even if you wouldn't know it!) - claiming FSA unfairness and the FSA saying it's ASDA's job to find out why their milk differs....if it does.

If ASDA's milk is something other than "normal" milk, and it's especially unhealthy and not even labelled as such, then fair enough, the public needs to know to be able to make informed dietary choices. It doesn't seem so likely though. In which case we need to see some friendly co-operation between all the agencies involved to see what has gone wrong.

No matter whose fault it turns out to be, everyone "knows" milk is good for you and your children, so - unless there is some serious evidence to these claims of ASDA milky weirdness - to end up with headlines like "FSA bans milk advertising" does nothing but discredit the new law and give people ammunition to decry its worthy aims as nanny-state nonsense.

(You just watch the Poorhouse be wrong and they find that ASDA does indeed insert blocks of anthrax-filled lard into its milk production facilities before marketing them).

Edited to add: Actually it seems despite what their PR person said, ASDA do have their own unique suppliers of milk.


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