In Africa in the Seventies and Eighties, volunteer services distributing aid and health education to children in remote areas were caught by surprise.

They were surprised to discover that someone else had got there before them.

No matter how far flung a village, Fanta and Coca Cola could always be found.

Sadly, not much has changed since then and children are still being duped into drinking liquid sugar with added chemicals.

This is hardly surprising given the lack of restrictions placed on the advertising of such products.

Much more surprising is that parents have put up with it for so long. What should have been a battle between responsible governments and the food industry has become a daily struggle between mother and child.

I recently had the opportunity to meet Tim Lobstein, Executive Director of the Food Commission and his father Hans, a regular contributor to The Argus Letters' page.

Tim Lobstein is a founder member of the national non-profit organisation which campaigns for the right to safe, wholesome food.

The Food Commission is funded by public subscriptions and donations and is completely independent from the Government and food industry.

It began publishing the award-winning Food Magazine in 1988, and gave us the facts behind BSE, irradiation, genetically-modified food and dangerous toxins and chemicals in our food.

The Food Commission is now the UK'S leading independent food watchdog.

When the Food Commission asked for 12 parents to participate in the Parents' Jury in March, 2002 to judge what kinds of foods and drinks should be sold to children and which should be kicked off the shelves, they were inundated with calls and letters from more than 1,300 angry parents.

Here was an opportunity to express their frustration with the appalling quality of food targeted at their kids in school canteens, supermarkets, vending machines, cafes and restaurants.

Parents are right to be concerned. A government report admits many children consume unacceptable levels of artificial sweeteners.

A recent survey by the Food Commission shows processed foods are oversalted and that many children's foods contain more salt in a single serving than the recommended daily maximum intake.

Common offenders are crisps, bread, soup, canned pasta shapes and processed cheese snacks.

Another worry is the dramatic rise in childhood obesity, prompting speculation that parents may soon outlive their children.

After being lectured on the benefits of eating five pieces of fruit and veg per day, children are faced with fizzy drink machines and school canteens offering burgers, chips and sugary desserts.

No wonder the number of overweight kids in the UK rose by 40 per cent in just fours years (1994-1998).

Tim Lobstein believes in turning our collective anxiety and anger about adulterated food into action.

It is no longer uncool to insist on healthy food for a better quality of life. How about establishing a children's website called Killer Bites? Or setting up a Kids' Jury?

The Food Commission needs your ideas and support.

Contact it at 94 White Lion Street, London N1 9PF. Phone on 020 7837 2250 or visit the web site at
Martina is a qualified nutritionist at the Crescent Clinic of Complementary Medicine, 37 Vernon Terrace, Brighton. Tel: 01273 202221 or email: