Are you ready for the new rules banning the advertising of high fat, salt or sugar food and drink products in children’s media?

8 February, 2017

From 1 July 2017, there will be a new regime restricting the advertising of high fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) food and drink products in children’s media. Following on from the ban for this category of adverts on broadcast media (TV), the extension of the rules means adverts for products which are categorised as HFSS under the Department of Health nutrient profiling model (introduced in 2007), cannot now be shown in non-broadcast media, including social media and on-line.  The ban restricts adverts on children’s media or media where 25% or more of the audience are children.  In summary:

  • Ads that directly or indirectly promote an HFSS product cannot appear in children’s media.
  • Ads for HFSS products cannot appear in other media where children make up over 25% of the audience.
  • Ads for HFSS products will not be allowed to use promotions, licensed characters and celebrities popular with children.

The new rules will also mean that ads for HFSS products will no longer be allowed to appear around TV-like content online, such as on video-sharing platforms or advergames, if they are directed at or likely to appeal particularly to children. Popular “family” programmes like Britain’s Got Talent and X-Factor, and U-Tube, may however fall outside the restrictions because they do not meet the criteria.  Food packaging for products consumed by children may also still carry promotions.

For the purposes of the new rules, children are those under 16 years of age, who, according to Ofcom research, now spend around 15 hours each week online – overtaking time spent watching a TV set for the first time. The Committee on Advertising Practice (CAP) does however acknowledge that there are many factors that have an impact on childhood obesity, and that available evidence shows that the effect of advertising on children’s food preferences is relatively small, particularly when compared to other factors like parental influences.

In order to help those advertising HFSS products comply with the new law, the CAP has produced a short Q&A – CAP: New food rules: Q&A IV, 26 January 2017.

If you have any questions relating to food advertising or media law in general, please contact Phil Bilney.