New code to shield kids from junk food

28th May 2021 | Eativity editors

Following the completion of a wide-ranging public review, the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) has announced a new Food and Beverages Code that will further reduce the chance of kids seeing ads promoting junk food and drinks, or “occasional foods”, that are often targeted specifically towards children.

The new code raises the definition of a child to under 15 years, which aligns with the definition in the Children’s Television Standards, and will also introduce a tougher child audience threshold test. These new provisions will apply from November 1 this year.

“Food and non-alcoholic beverage companies will only be able to show advertisements for occasional foods when the proportion of children is 25 percent or less of the total audience,” says AANA Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Megan McEwin. “The threshold is currently 35 percent or less.”

KFC was just one of the companies to be shamed in the 2021 Parent’s Voice Fame & Shame Awards.

This requirement will apply to all media, both traditional and digital. The other major changes to the food and beverage (F&B) self-regulatory system are:

• The creation of a single unified F&B code incorporating the previous AANA code and two other initiatives that cover fast food and packaged foods found in supermarkets.

• The definition of “occasional foods” will now be determined by the application of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ ) Nutrient Profiling Scoring Criterion.

• The new F&B Code will now apply to sponsorships.

• There’ll be a specific reference to a requirement that only healthier options be marketed to children, so brand owners don’t advertise junk food near places where kids congregate.

Fundraising sponsorships that spruik junk food will soon be a no-no.

“Where the rules differed, the new AANA F&B Code has either adopted the most stringent measure or introduced a new provision that represents a higher bar,” McEwin says.

“The definition of what foods can be advertised to children will be based on the criterion laid down by the independent, statutory food authority, FSANZ. Under the new code, advertising for products that do not meet the FSANZ Nutrient Profile Scoring Criterion cannot be targeted at children under 15 years.”

The AANA says it’s committed to regular reviews of the code to ensure it keeps apace with any new evidence on the impact of advertising and also takes any new technologies or marketing tools into account. This will include a full public consultation every five years.