New Advertising Code for Food strengthens protections for children
Media Release – 25 May 2021
Following the completion of a wide-ranging public review, the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) has today announced a new Food and Beverages Code that will further reduce the opportunity for children to view advertisements promoting occasional food or drinks (treats). This will be achieved by harmonising and raising the definition of a child to under 15 years, which aligns with the definition in the Children’s Television Standards and also introducing a tougher child audience threshold test.
“Food and non-alcoholic beverage companies will only be able to show advertisements for occasional foods when the proportion of children is 25% or less of the total audience. The threshold is currently 35% or less.
“This requirement will apply to all media, both traditional and digital,” the AANA’s Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Megan McEwin said.
The other major changes to the food & beverage self-regulatory system are:
- the creation of a single unified F&B Code incorporating the previous AANA Code and two other initiatives that covered Quick Service restaurants and packaged foods found in supermarkets and grocery stores;
- the definition of ‘occasional’ foods will now be determined by the application of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Nutrient Profiling Scoring Criterion;
- the new F&B Code will now apply to sponsorships; and
- the new code will incorporate a specific reference to a requirement that only healthier options be marketed to children, so that brand owners do not advertise occasional foods near places where children congregate.
“Where the rules differed, the new AANA F&B Code has either adopted the most stringent measure or introduced a new provision that represents a higher bar.
“The definition of what foods can be advertised to children will be based on the criterion laid down by the independent, statutory food authority, FSANZ. Under the AANA’s new F&B advertising Code, occasional food or beverage products will mean those that do not meet the Food Standards Australia Nutrient Profile Scoring Criterion. Advertising for these products cannot be targeted at children under 15 years,” Ms McEwin said.
The AANA Board said it is committed to regular reviews of the F&B Code to ensure that it keeps apace with any new evidence on the impact of advertising and also takes account of any new technologies or marketing techniques. This process will include a full public consultation every five years.
“We will now embark on an education campaign to communicate the changes to the marketing community and to help them comply with the new provisions, which will apply from 1 November 2021,” Ms McEwin said.
Complaints under the new F&B Code will be adjudicated by the Ad Standards’ independent Community Panel. The new F&B Code and associated Practice Notes can be accessed here.