New Food and Beverages Advertising Code bolsters protections for children

Will Kreznick

The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) has introduced a new Food and Beverages Advertising Code (Code) that enhances protections for children by placing more stringent obligations on advertisers. What is the Code? The Code is part of the AANA’s self-regulatory system. It aims to ensure that “advertisers and marketers […]

The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) has introduced a new Food and Beverages Advertising Code (Code) that enhances protections for children by placing more stringent obligations on advertisers.

What is the Code?

The Code is part of the AANA’s self-regulatory system. It aims to ensure that “advertisers and marketers maintain a high sense of social responsibility in advertising and marketing food and beverage products in Australia in a manner that is legal, honest, truthful and reflects health and safety standards”. Complaints can be made under the Code and may be determined by the Ad Standards Community Panel.

The recent amendments follow a comprehensive public review of the Code.

Changes enhancing the protection for children

The changes require advertisers to comply with stricter obligations that reduce the opportunity for children to view advertisements promoting occasional food or beverages. This is done by:

  • specifically requiring that advertising for occasional food or beverage products not target children, including by providing that advertisers can only show advertisements for occasional food and beverages when the proportion of children is 25 per cent or less of the total audience (the current threshold is 35 per cent)
  • changing the definition of a “child” from 14 years old to 15 years old (consistent with the definition in the Children’s Television Standards)
  • broadening the application of the Code so that it also applies to sponsorship advertisements.

Other changes

Other important changes include:

  • changing the definition of “occasional food or beverage” to products that do not meet the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Nutrient Profiling Scoring Criterion
  • providing a single unified Code that incorporates the previous Code and two other initiatives which covered quick service restaurants and packaged foods found in supermarkets and grocery stores.

The AANA has also announced that it will conduct a full public consultation on the Code every five years.

Who do these requirements apply to?

Subject to specific exemptions, these requirements apply to any advertising, marketing communication or material that is published or broadcast using any medium or any activity which is undertaken by, or on behalf of an advertiser or marketer:

  • over which the advertiser or marketer has a reasonable degree of control
  • that draws the attention of the public in a manner calculated to promote or oppose directly or indirectly a product, service, person, organisation or line of conduct.

When do advertisers need to start complying with the Code?

Advertisers and marketers are required to comply with the changes to the Code from 1 November this year.

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