Bite Back: Youth campaign shames companies over junk food products

Kinder Surprise eggs.
Kinder Surprise eggs. Copyright Canva.
Copyright Canva.
By Eleanor Butler
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Activists in the UK call out firms like Ferrero and Mondelez that cash in on selling unhealthy food to children.


Youth campaign group Bite Back, founded by chef Jamie Oliver, claims that the UK food system is broken and that young people are paying the price.

In their ‘Fuel Us, Don’t Fool Us’ report, released on Thursday, they name and shame big companies reliant on junk food products.

According to Bite Back, Ferrero and Cadbury-owner Mondelez are the firms with the highest proportion of unhealthy items in their portfolios, with an estimated 100% and 98% of their UK sales coming from junk food.

This includes sweet snacks like Kinder Surprise and Freddo bars.

Other companies criticised in the report are Unilever and Kellogs, with 84% and 77% of sales coming from unhealthy products respectively.

Both Ferrero and Unilever have nonetheless disputed the report’s findings, claiming the study did not take their entire range of products into account.

On the other end of the scale, the report praised French company Danone for only making 2% of its UK sales from junk food.

"Danone shows that it is possible to be a large successful food company without relying on unhealthy food sales. Its UK product portfolio is made up of bottled water, yoghurts and milk," the group said.

Danone is nonetheless bucking the trend set by many large food and drink firms.

Oxford University found seven of the 10 biggest global food manufacturers made almost 70% of their packaged food and drink sales in the UK in 2022 from products high in fat, sugar or salt.

Bite Back’s new report also found that food manufacturers in the UK spent £55 million (around €64 million) in 2022 on online adverts for food and drink products from four food categories associated with children’s excess sugar and calorie intake.

This comes at a time when nearly one in three children aged from two to 15 are at risk of a food-related illness, Thursday's report said.

Sir Patrick Vallance, a former UK government chief scientific adviser, is a high-profile figure supporting the Bite Back campaign.

"The young people at the heart of Bite Back have rightly called time on an industry that they believe is maximising profit over their health," he said.

"The epidemic of food related ill health, which grips our nation and starts in childhood, cannot be solved by science alone, it needs policy action. Medical advances to treat type-2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer are progressing fast and save thousands of lives every day, but how much better would it be if these diseases could be prevented?"

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