NEW advertising rules which will brand cheese as "junk food" were yesterday criticised as "dietary nannying gone mad" by a leading farming industry figure.
"To suggest there is anything inherently harmful about cheese is absurd," said the National Farming Union's national director of communications, Anthony Gibson.
He said the rules would be "thoroughly unhelpful to farmers" at a time when the dairy industry had been going through a very difficult 12 months.
"Any wounds inflicted by our own authorities we can very well do without," said Devon-based Mr Gibson.
"It is not going to do anything to encourage the sales of cheese."
The new regulations, being introduced this month by the television regulator Ofcom, will ban broadcasters from advertising cheese during children's TV programmes, or shows with a large number of child viewers.
They are part of a government clampdown on junk- food TV adverts and aimed at reducing the exposure of children to food high in fat, salt and sugar.
The ban comes in the wake of evidence that television commercials have an indirect influence on what children eat and are contributing to obesity in the young.
The Food Standards Agency used a nutrient profiling model to distinguish junk food from healthy food.
The model officially labelled cheese as more unhealthy than sugary cereals, full-fat crisps and cheeseburgers.
It assessed the fat, sugar and salt content in a 100g or 100ml serving of food or drink. But the British Cheese Board said the typical portion size of cheese was between 30g and 40g - not the 100g used in the FSA model.