Transport chiefs have been forced to scrap an advert for Wimbledon featuring strawberries and cream – because it violated rules on fatty foods. A ban on junk food adverts across London’s transport network came into force in February in a drive to combat childhood obesity. Banned foods include breakfast cereals, yoghurts, cakes, pizza, bread and sausages – and cream.
A number of advertising posters commissioned by Transport for London have been banned for breaking the rules. They were edited or removed at a cost of £16,155. One was an advert on the Tube’s District Line for the Wimbledon tennis tournament which featured strawberries and cream. A contractor for TfL wrote in an internal email: ‘There are some strawberries and cream by Wimbledon. Can we just remove the cream?’
The TfL policy was backed by Mayor Sadiq Khan and celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Christopher Snowdon, of the Institute of Economic Affairs: ‘This ban was sold to the public as a clampdown on junk food advertising. We can now see that it extends far beyond junk food and even includes non-food advertising. As a result, TfL has had to spend thousands of pounds airbrushing perfectly harmless images to comply with its own puritanical rules.’
The ban on junk food advertising on buses, the Tube and train networks run by TfL was introduced after Khan said he wanted to tackle the ‘ticking timebomb’ of child obesity.
But food companies have argued that the ban wrongly targets healthy items. Grocery delivery service Farmdrop was stopped from advertising free-range butter, eggs and bacon because of the rules. It said: ‘We were pretty shocked .’