Bakers Journal

New restrictions on advertising to children come into effect

June 29, 2023
By Bakers Journal

Following its introduction in June 2021, the Code and Guide for the Responsible Advertising of Food and Beverage Products to Children is effective from June 28.

Developed over two years by the Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA), Food, Health and Consumer Products Canada (FHCP), Canadian Beverage Association (CBA) and Restaurants Canada, together with government and a diverse group of stakeholders, the Code and Guide fulfils the objectives of government in restricting advertising of food and beverage product to children.

The Code and Guide sets rules for advertisers of food and beverage products, requiring a responsible approach to child audiences.

Under this new standard, only food and beverages that meet specified nutrition criteria may be advertised in a manner that is primarily directed to children under the age of 13.

“It is easily one of the strongest, most comprehensive such programs in the world, and stands poised to dramatically reduce the exposure of children to child-directed food and beverage advertising,” said Ron Lund, president and CEO of ACA.

“Its restriction is unequivocal,” adds registered dietitian Michi Furuya Chang, senior vice-president, Public Policy & Regulatory Affairs at FHCP. “Advertising for a food or beverage product may not be primarily directed to persons under 13 years of age unless the product satisfies the child advertising nutrition criteria.”

Beginning June 28, 2023, Ad Standards will fully implement its robust preclearance regime to the Code and Guide. Ad Standards Canada is an independent non-profit organization that has been responsible for upholding the standards of the advertising industry for over 60 years. Advertisers are encouraged to submit all food and beverage advertisings that might reasonably be seen as primarily directed to children, in any media, for review and preclearance by Ad Standards to ensure compliance.

In determining whether an advertisement is primarily directed to children, Ad Standards will consider:

  • the nature and intended purpose of the food or beverage product advertised;
  • the manner of presenting the advertisement; and
  • the time and place it is shown.

Preclearance is available for all advertisers, and not just members of Ad Standards or any of the stakeholders responsible for the development of the Code and Guide.

“It is important to understand that this is an industry-wide code,” said Krista Scaldwell, CBA’s president. “The new preclearance and enforcement system will apply to all advertisers and for all media. The new restrictions are another example of the food and beverage sectors’ commitment to our consumers.”

Ad Standards will enforce the Code and Guide through a complaints-based mechanism applicable to all advertisers. For ads that were precleared under the Code and Guide by Ad Standards, the complainant will be advised that these ads are compliant, and no further action will be taken. For more information, see Ad Standards website.

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