The Office of Communication’s (Ofcom’s) new rules limiting children’s exposure to television advertising for HFSS came into force on 1 April 2007. The rules mean that HFSS advertisements are no longer permitted in or around programmes made for children (including pre-school children), or around programmes that are likely to be of particular appeal to children aged 4 to 9. Further scheduling restrictions will come into force on 1 January 2008 and will ban HFSS advertisements in programmes made for children aged 4 to 15, or programmes that are likely to be of particular appeal to children of that age.
Meanwhile, the Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP), the body responsible for writing the UK nonbroadcast advertising code, has confirmed plans that will see the introduction of similar advertising restrictions on food and drink products in non-broadcast media as from 1 July 2007.
The CAP’s restrictions will cover the advertising of nearly all food and drink products to under-16 year olds, extending advertising restrictions to media such as magazines, paid-for advertising space on the internet, newspapers, billboards and cinema. Although Ofcom chose to adopt the UK Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) model for determining what food and drinks should be labelled HFSS and therefore banned, CAP members were reported to almost universally disagree with the FSA’s model, opting instead to exempt only fruit and vegetables from the ban. Under the FSA’s system, a food classified as HFSS scores 4 points or more, whereas a drink classified as HFSS scores 1 point or more, with every food scored according to a 100g portion. The methodology means that foods normally eaten only in small amounts, such as cheese, raisins or Marmite, are treated in the same way as, for example, burgers or chicken nuggets.