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NZ: New ad code for children’s food – FOE’s response

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has launched a new advertising code – the Children’s Code for Advertising Food. They have also updated two other codes: the Code for Advertising of Food and the Code for Advertising to Children.

The ASA is just fiddling while Rome burns. There is no reason to believe the new code and updates will make any difference to the deluge of junk food advertising that engulfs children on a daily basis.

The Children’s Code for Advertising Food, like its predecessors, has some fine-sounding principles.  But experience with complaints to the Board shows that these are not translated into practices that effectively control the advertising of junk food to children. The Code doesn’t even attempt to do anything to reduce the volume of advertising that detrimentally influences children’s food choices.

The get-out-of jail card so often used in previous Board decisions is the following statement from the introduction to the new 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 [the Complaints Board] is vested with discretion to ensure a commonsense outcome.

“Commonsense’ is code for business as usual. Don’t expect to see junk food ads disappearing from primetime TV anytime soon.

The new Code, and the accompanying fanfare from the food and advertising industries, is all about ensuring no government regulation of advertising. Its aim is to protect what, from health and child protection perspectives, is a completely ineffective self-regulation process. It has nothing to do with protecting the health of our children.

The new and revised codes are available at the ASA website:

Read the ASA press release

Find out why FOE thinks advertising junk food on TV to children should stop

Read FOE’s submission to the ASA review, May 2009 (PDF)

Read some of the media coverage:

Stricter rules for food advertisements for children

Food advertisements with a strong appeal to children must adhere to a new code launched by the ASA today.

Read more: NZ Herald, 19 May 2010

Food ad code ‘missed opportunity’

A new code for advertising foods with strong appeal to children is a “missed opportunity” which will have little impact on unhealthy food makers, Dr Gay Keating, a public health advocate says.

Read more: Stuff, 19 May 2010

Concern at monitoring of children’s food ad code

Read more: RadioNZ, 19 May 2010

Published on May 21, 2010 in New Zealand news,TV advertising