The McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth had published a survey claiming that 80% of Australians were concerned about the current levels of exposure children have to alcohol promotion.
It also found that 71% did not think it appropriate for alcohol adverts to feature sports stars that are popular with children.
McCusker Centre’s executive officer, Julia Stafford, subsequently called on the government to “phase out alcohol sponsorship of sport, close a loophole that allows alcohol ads during sport on TV, and introduce independent, legislated controls on all forms of alcohol marketing”.
Stafford’s demands have prompted an angry response by Alcohol Beverages Australia (ABA) executive director Fergus Taylor, who insisted that alcohol advertising “doesn't cause underage drinking”.
He stressed that this is a fact borne out by recent government statistics, which show underage drinking in Australia has been in steady decline for more than a decade.
"This decline has occurred while alcohol advertising has increased and expanded onto new digital platforms including social media. It is a clear indication that the regulations in place are working well,” Taylor said.
According to ABA, alcohol advertising is effectively regulated through the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code scheme – a robust independent system with a government representative on its five-member management committee.
The drinks lobby believes the scheme “ensures that advertising content does not have strong or evident appeal to minors or encourage irresponsible consumption of alcohol, show a change of mood or suggest that drinking leads to success”.
Taylor said that there has been no credible evidence to support the suggestion that alcohol advertising and sponsorships prompt underage drinking.
Indeed, the established influences on drinking behaviour for young people are in fact parents and their peers.
"The industry is targeting these causes with real action, like the DrinkWise [awareness] campaigns that remind parents that their kids absorb their drinking," Taylor added.
More from Down Under...
Chiko Roll to be touted on world market
Aussie icon the Chiko Roll may finally find a place in the hearts of consumers in the northern hemisphere as its makers set off on a search fo importers.
An Australian take on the spring roll, albeit filled with barley and beef, and wrapped heavy pastry, the Chiko Roll first made an appearance in 1929.
Parent Simplot Australia will take the product to Anuga, the world’s largest export trade fair, in Germany next month.
It will be the first time that Simplot will market the “one-handed snack” to the rest of the world, where the focus will be on its Australian heritage and iconic history.
Arguably Australia’s most famous take-away food icon, synonymous with Australia’s laid-back milk bar, beach and surf culture, Chiko will also debut its stablemate, the Chiko Corn Jack.
Simplot Australia managing director Graham Dugdale said he expected the products to attract significant interest.
“This is the first step in expanding the global footprint of Australia’s most famous hot snack, as well as raising the profile of Australian manufacturing expertise,” he said.
“Chiko’s home is in takeaway, sports matches and other outdoors events, and we think it has its place in similar venues all over the world.”
QSR customers most satisfied with Grill’d
Though McDonald’s has the most customers in Australia’s fast-food market, it is well off the pace in terms of consumer approval, according to a new analysis.
Having spoken to more than 8,000 quick-service restaurant diners, Roy Morgan research found that Grill’d had the highest proportion of satisfied customers out of the segment’s top 14 brands.
Grill’d’s score of 90.7% customers at least “fairly satisfied” was substantially ahead of the 66.2% polled by McDonald’s in the survey.
The healthy burger chain was closely followed by Guzman Y Gomez with 89.3%, Crust Pizza (86.6%) and Subway (85.8%).
With 11.8m Australians over 14 visiting fast-food restaurant monthly, over the last 12 months, the biggest improvement in satisfaction was for Pizza Hut (up 9.6 percentage points), followed by Red Rooster (5.8), KFC (3.5) and Crust Pizza (2.5).
Those showing the largest declines in satisfaction were Hog’s Breath Café (down 9.6 percentage points), Nando’s (6.1) and Guzman Y Gomez (2.8).
Norman Morris, of Roy Morgan Research, said there has been a strong increase in quick service restaurant customers over the last four years, with numbers growing by over 1.3m or 13%, leading to “very tough competition”.
“The use of quick service restaurants is widespread across all age groups and socio-economic segments,” he added.
Glutaminase could soon be allowed as a processing enzyme
The antipodean food regulator has called for public and industry submissions on an application to allow the use of protein glutaminase as a processing aid.
Fsanz chief executive Mark Booth said the enzyme can be used to enhance protein solubility in a range of applications, from bakery and dairy, to meat, fish and grain processing.
“The enzyme improves emulsification, foam stabilisation and gelling, and decreases flavour fade or ‘off flavour’ problems associated with flavour-protein interactions,” Booth said.
"Fsanz has determined there are no public health or safety issues associated with using this enzyme.”
All the regulator’s decisions on applications are notified to ministers responsible for food regulation, who can ask for a review or agree that the standard should become law.
Submissions will close on November 2.