‘Unhealthy’ Food Ads Banned Under New ASA Rules in UK
The National Law Review
Retailers should continue to monitor the Committee of Advertising Practice Code (CAP Code) governing the advertising of High in Fat, Salt and Sugar (HFSS) products to children. Last year, CAP introduced rules banning the advertising of HFSS products in children’s media and media where children comprise at least 25% of the audience. This includes placing ads within 100m of a primary school, for example. CAP intends to restrict the advertising of products that “most contribute to the problem of childhood obesity”. CAP is reviewing the effectiveness of its rules, considering whether its objective can be better achieved with tougher restrictions, which could include a 9pm watershed on all HFSS advertising. The CAP Code is enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Recent ASA decisions have found that ads featuring a non-HFSS product may still fall foul of the CAP Code if an ad generally promotes a brand who range contains a majority of HFSS products.
CAP Code review
CAP is currently considering feedback from its consultation on the effectiveness of its rules to determine whether its objective of tackling the childhood obesity problem can be better achieved with even tougher restrictions. Such restrictions could go as far as imposing a 9pm watershed on all television advertising of HFSS products. Although the UK government considers such measures a “disproportionate response” to the problem of childhood obesity, it remains to be seen whether the CAP will make rules which were only recently brought into place, even stricter.
The ASA released a number of decisions recently, which demonstrate its tough stance on the advertising of HFSS products to children and its willingness to enforce the current regime.