Jamie Oliver slams his network bosses over junk-food ads

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.PHOTO: ST FILE

CANNES (France) • Jamie Oliver is boiling mad over junk-food advertising on television.

The British celebrity cook, who has campaigned against sugary drinks and the "abysmal" standard of food in British schools, also lambasted the Olympic authorities and Fifa, which runs the World Cup football championships, for cashing in at the cost of children's health.

He pointed at his own bosses at Channel 4 and ITV in Britain, noting that they "don't want to be legislated against for junk-food advertising" because they fear for their budgets.

But "what matters more than our children?" asked the 43-year-old chef, who launched the #AdEnough campaign earlier this year, calling for TV junk-food advertising to be restricted to after 9pm.

Speaking recently at Mipcom, the world's biggest entertainment industry market in Cannes, France, he said: "All I am is a little weather gauge, a little litmus test of what is going to happen to you in three years.

"So the question therefore to the leaders is: 'Are you going to be pro-active or reactive?'"

"Are you going to do it because it is the right thing to do or are you going to be told to do it by a government that cannot afford the healthcare service?" he added, in a swipe at Britain's ruling Conservatives.

The chef, whose shows are seen in more than 100 countries, said his food campaigns cost his foundation more than £1 million (S$1.8 million) a year.

"Very few people have done TV campaigns on the planet because it is expensive," he noted. "A lot of what I do is trying to prove that doing good is good business."

While Oliver is stepping up to the plate now, he said he did not want to be on TV at the start.

"It was a bit of an inconvenience actually" and then it became a bit "frightening... like being in a boyband, with 1,000 people turning up to every book signing".

But with the desire to promote and force changes in the law to protect children, Oliver now has an outlet to feed that passion.

"It was shocking the s*** kids were being fed. We had very robust legal standards for dog food, but nothing for children.

"How very British."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2018, with the headline 'Jamie Oliver slams his network bosses over junk-food ads'. Print Edition | Subscribe