All advertisements for food and beverages (“food”) that influence children, whether contained in children’s media or otherwise, shall adhere to the Principles and Guidelines set out in this Code.
The Code recognises that children are not a homogeneous group but have varying levels of maturity and understanding. Care should be taken to ensure that the product and style of advertisement is appropriate for the intended audience.
The Code recognises the need to extend a duty of care to protect children pursuant to the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (“Convention”). Special notice is to be taken of Article 3 of the Convention, which states, “the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration”. Article 13 recognises the child’s right to freedom of expression. “This right shall include the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds.” Children therefore have the right to receive all kinds of information, including advertisements. However, Article 17(e) calls for “appropriate guidelines for the protection of the child from information and material injurious to his or her well-being.” This Code provides the “appropriate guidelines” for food advertisements that influence children.
It is noted that the Convention defines the age of a child as under 18. This Code defines the age of a child as under 14 in line with the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1989 and aligns with the Broadcasting Standards Authority definition of a child. The Code for Advertising Food specifically makes reference to young people aged 14 – 18.
Food advertisements should not undermine the food and nutrition policies of Government, the Ministry of Health Food and Nutrition Guidelines nor the health and wellbeing of children. Advertisements for nutritious foods important for a healthy diet are encouraged to help increase the consumption of such foods. However, advertisements should not encourage over-consumption of any food.
In interpreting the code emphasis will be placed on compliance with both the principles and the spirit and intention of the code. The guidelines are examples, by no means exhaustive of how the principles are to be interpreted and applied. Upon considering a complaint, the ASCB is vested with discretion to ensure a commonsense outcome.
Advertisements should comply with the laws of New Zealand and appropriate industry codes including the New Zealand Television Broadcasters code “Getting It Right for Children” available on www.nztbc.co.nz. Attention is also drawn to the “CF” rating system applied by the Commercial Approvals Bureau to all food advertising that is to be screened during children’s television programming times.
For the purposes of this Code:
“Children” means all persons below the age of 14.
“Food and Nutrition Guidelines” are the current version of the Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Children (aged 2-12 years): A background paper, published by the Ministry of Health.
“Social Responsibility” is embodied in the principles and guidelines of the Code and is integral to the consideration of the Advertising Standards Complaints Board. Previous decisions of the Complaints Board also guide its determinations, as do generally prevailing community standards.
“Treat food” is food high in fat, salt, or sugar intended for occasional consumption. Food high in fat, salt, or sugar is also known as energy dense and nutrient poor food (refer to Ministry of Health’s ‘Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Children (aged 2-12 years): A background paper.”
Principle 1 – All advertisements should be prepared with and observe a high standard of social responsibility to consumers and to society.
- Advertisements should not undermine the role of parents in educating children to have a balanced diet and be healthy individuals.
- Children should not be urged in advertisements to ask their parents, guardians or caregivers to buy particular products for them.
- Advertisements for treat food, snacks or fast food should not encourage children to consume them in excess.
- Advertisements for treat food, snacks or fast food should not encourage children to consume them in substitution for a main meal on a regular basis, nor should they undermine the Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Children.
- Advertisements for food should not portray products as complete meals unless they are formulated as such.
- The quantity of the food depicted in the advertisement should not exceed serving sizes that would be appropriate for consumption by a person or persons of the age depicted.
- Benefits of foods for a nutritious diet should not be exaggerated and should not imply that a single food should replace a healthy diet nor undermine the importance of consuming a variety of foods.
- Nutrient, nutrition and health claims (when permitted) should comply with the requirements of the Food Standards Code*. Such claims should not mislead or deceive the consumer.
- Advertisements should not promote inactive or unhealthy lifestyles nor should they show people who choose a healthy active lifestyle in a negative manner.
- Advertisements for slimming products or foods sold as an aid to slimming should not be directed at children.
*Note: The regulation of nutrition, health and related claims is currently under review. Please refer to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) website www.foodstandards.govt.nz for details. The Food Standards Code is available on the FSANZ website.
Principle 2 – Advertisements should not by implication, omission, ambiguity or exaggerated claim mislead or deceive or be likely to mislead or deceive children, abuse the trust of or exploit their lack of knowledge or without reason play on fear.
- Advertisements should be clearly recognisable as such by children and separated from editorial, programmes or other non-advertising content.
- Advertisements should take into account the level of knowledge, sophistication and maturity of the intended audience.
- Care should be taken to ensure advertisements do not mislead as to the nutritive value of any food. Foods high in sugar, fat and/or salt, especially those marketed to and/or favoured by children, should not be portrayed in any way that suggests they are beneficial to health.
- Food advertisements containing obvious hyperbole, identifiable as such by the intended audience, are not considered misleading.
- Advertisements should not claim or imply endorsement by any government agency, professional body or independent agency unless there is prior consent, the claim and the endorsement are verifiable and current and the agency or body named. An endorser represented as an expert should have qualifications appropriate to the expertise depicted.
- Care should be taken with advertisements promoting a competition, premium or loyalty/continuity programme to ensure that advertisements do not encourage frequent repeat purchases of foods high in fat, salt and sugar.
- Advertisements for foods high in sugar should not claim to be “low fat” or “fat free” which could mislead the consumer to believe the food is low in energy or beneficial to health.
- Advertisements for food high in fat should not claim to be “low in sugar” or “sugar-free” which could mislead the consumer to believe the food is low in energy or beneficial to health.
Principle 3 – Persons or characters well-known to children shall not be used in advertisements to promote food in such a way so as to undermine a healthy diet as defined by the Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Children.
- Persons or characters well known to children may present factual and relevant statements about nutrition and health.
- Persons or characters well known to children should not be used to endorse food high in fat, salt and /or sugar.