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Ministry aims to ban ads for junk food on TV channels for kids

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW) yesterday proposed a draft bill that would prohibit airing commercials for five kinds of junk foods on children's television channels.

The listed kinds of junk foods were potato chips, french fries, pastries, friend chicken and sugar-filled drinks. All commercials promoting these products would be banned from being aired on select channels by the end the 2014, said the MHW.

Toy giveaways through children's meals will be banned as well, as free toys may encourage children to consume too much junk food, the MHW noted. Selling toys at discount prices in order to draw customers will also be prohibited.

Foods containing over 30 percent fat and over 10 percent of either saturated fat or sugar are on the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) list of junk foods unfit for children to consume, as well as foods containing over 0.3 milligrams of trans fats or 1 gram of sodium in every 100 milligrams/milliliters, said the MHW.

Fast food outlets that violate the proposed ban will be fined as much as NT$4 million, said FDA Deputy Director-General Jiang Yu-mei.

The Legislature passed an amended version of the Act Governing Food Sanitation last year, which lists the prohibitions to be implemented.

Jiang said that the draft has already been posted on government websites and a professional conference will be held soon concerning the new policy. Using giveaway toys as a way to promote product sales will not be used again in the future, said Jiang, who used the popular Kinder chocolate eggs as an example. “These eggs with toys in one half and chocolate in the other have evidently violated the regulations. They will not be on sale (when the new policy is carried out),” said Jiang.

The policy is the first to restrict junk food in Taiwan. The listed junk food types are not to be promoted via commercials on 14 of the island's TV channels targeting young audiences by the end of 2014.

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