Health

Kids' characters to vanish from Dutch food packaging

Famous children's characters such as Dora the Explorer may soon disappear from some commercial food packaging in the Netherlands to discourage unhealthy eating habits, said food industry representatives.

The decision was made after "public debates on the impact of advertising targeting children" as "obesity is a problem over which the food industry is greatly concerned", the umbrella Dutch Food Industry Federation (FNLI) said.

The move, which will be a first in Europe, will see popular cartoon characters, also including Miffy the bunny, disappear from generic products perceived as unhealthy but which target children with packaging.

The new measure aims to curb packaging with "licensed media characters" aimed at children up to 13 years old, the FNLI, which represents 450 food industry businesses and 19 organisations, said.

"These products are placed on shelves at children's eye level and are often unhealthy, containing too much salt, sugar or fats," added popular tabloid De Telegraaf.

Dutch Health Ministry spokesman Leonne Gartz told AFP this will include removing characters, such as Dora the Explorer, from the packaging.

"It does not affect characters specific to products," she added, citing the example of a tiger on a brand of cereals.

The FNLI hoped that the phasing-out would be implemented over the next year, following tests to ensure that the plan doesn't lead to unfair competition in the market.

Dutch Deputy Health Minister Martin van Rijn praised the food industry's initiative.

"It's important to me that children and their parents are spared from the constant bombardment of seductive advertising on unhealthy foods," he told De Telegraaf. 
- AFP

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