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Code for Advertising of Food

August 2010

INTRODUCTION

The purpose of the Code is to ensure that advertising of food will be conducted in a manner that is socially responsible and does not mislead or deceive the consumer.

Advertisements for food and beverages consumed by humans ("food") shall adhere to the Principles and Guidelines set out in this Code. The Code for Advertising Food applies to food advertising to persons 14 years and over. However, Advertisers are also required to exercise a particular duty of care for food advertisements directed at young people aged 14 to 17 years of age.

Food advertisements that influence children are subject to the Children’s Code for Advertising Food. Children are defined in the ASA Codes as persons below the age of 14 years.

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 individuals. Advertisements for nutritious foods important for a healthy diet are encouraged to help increase the consumption of such foods. However, no advertisement should 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.

For the purposes of this Code:

"Appropriate industry codes" includes the Infant Nutrition Council "Code of Practice for the Marketing of Infant Formula" and any other industry code recognised by the ASA.

"Food and Nutrition Guidelines" are a series of nutrition policy papers aimed at specific population groups 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.

Principle 1- All food advertisements should be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and to society. However food advertisements containing nutrient, nutrition or health claims*, should observe a high standard of social responsibility.

Guidelines

1(a) 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.

1(b) Advertisements for food should not portray products as complete meals unless they are formulated as such.

1(c) 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.

1(d) Advertisements should not encourage excessive consumption or depict inappropriately large portions of any particular food.

1(e) Benefits of foods for a nutritious diet should not be exaggerated and should not imply that a single food should replace a healthy diet or undermine the importance of consuming a variety of foods.

1(f) Advertisements should not promote inactive or unhealthy lifestyles nor should they show people who choose a healthy active lifestyle in a negative manner.

*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 consumers, abuse the trust of or exploit the lack of knowledge of consumers, exploit the superstitious or without justifiable reason play on fear.

Guidelines

2(a) All nutrient, nutritional and health claims should be factual, not misleading, and able to be substantiated. Claims should comply with the Food Standards Code*.

2(b) 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 should not be portrayed in any way that suggests they are beneficial to health.

2(c) Food advertisements containing obvious hyperbole, identifiable as such by the intended audience are not considered misleading.

2(d) Claims in an advertisement should not be inconsistent with information on the label or packaging of the food.

2(e) 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, current and the agency or body named. An endorser represented as an expert should have qualifications appropriate to the expertise depicted.

2(f) Care should be taken with advertisements promoting a competition, premium or loyalty/continuity programme to ensure that advertisements do not encourage excessive repeat purchases of foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

2(g) 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.

2(h) 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.

*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.

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Advertising Standards Authority New Zealand, PO Box 10-675, Wellington 6143. PH (04) 472 7852 FAX (04) 471 1785 Email asa@asa.co.nz