Industry asks kids what they want to eat

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Children, Nutrition

A one-day conference will present food manufacturers with an
insight into developing healthy foods for children - by asking the
young consumers directly what they want.

Children are the trickiest of consumer - they have strong ideas about what they want to eat and are especially susceptible to marketing and trends, but if they receive inadequate nutrition their development can be seriously impaired. The Food For Kids conference, planned by Leatherhead Food International (LFI) for June 18, aims to answer the question: 'How do we make sure that they are having a nutritionally well balanced diet that they will actually enjoy?' LFI has teemed up with Consumer Knowledge Centre, which works with children on product development on an international basis. The highlight is an interactive session, where a group of children will themselves develop healthy foods that they would like to eat. The children will also communicate their ideas, priorities when it comes to food they want to eat - and give an insight into their daily lives. In addition, a panel of (adult) speakers will present information on some of the new regulations coming into force that are influencing development of products for children and their marketing. There will also be a focus on healthy products for kids that have already proved a commercial success on the market. Making foods less bad ​ The development and marketing of foods that will appeal to children is particularly emotive. Major efforts are underway by manufacturers, in partnership with regulatory agencies, to reduce the levels of negative nutrients (saturated fat, sugar, salt) in food products. In addition, a slate of artificial colouring have long been used to make children's foods and snacks more visually appealing. Since the publication of the Southampton study which detected a link between certain cocktails of additives and hyperactivity in children, pressure has been growing on industry to remove these purely cosmetic ingredients - a process industry says was already gaining pace. Health claims ​ The inclusion of ingredients to bring greater health benefits to young consumers - but under the new nutrition and health claims regulations it is set to be one of the most tightly controlled areas. Claims related to children's development or health, along with disease reduction claims or those related to new or emerging science, must be passed to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) by the EC for assessment with an eight-month guaranteed turnaround period. Advertising to children ​ In addition, there is presently an emphasis on curbing advertisement of unhealthy foods around media aimed at children. In the UK new regulations came into effect last year and this, covering both broadcast and non-broadcast advertisement. Still, there are some who wish the regulations to go further, with consumer watchdog Which?, for example, stirring up support for a bill that would see a 9pm watershed on advertising HFSS foods to kids. More information on the LFI conference can be found here

Related topics: Health and nutritional ingredients

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