Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.
For a comprehensive overview of the HFSS rules, check out our eLearning module "Food and soft drink advertising to children".
HFSS products are food and soft drink products that are high in fat, salt or sugar as identified using nutrient profiling. The rules in the Advertising Codes rely on the Department of Health (DoH) nutrient profiling model, which compares energy, saturated fat, total sugar and sodium against fruit, vegetables and nut content, fibre and protein.
Points are allocated on the basis of 100g of a food or drink, irrespective of the serving size, and if a product needs to be reconstituted before it is eaten, the score should be calculated on the reconstituted product (as per manufacturer’s instructions).
Points are awarded for ‘A’ nutrients (energy, saturated fat, total sugar and sodium) and for ‘C’ nutrients (fruit, vegetables and nut content, fibre and protein). The score for ‘C’ nutrients is then subtracted from the score for ‘A’ nutrients to give the final nutrient profile score.
Foods scoring 4 or more points and drinks scoring 1 or more points are classified as HFSS.
The DoH nutrient profiling model is available here and includes detailed technical guidance on how the profiling works.
HFSS product advertisements are subject to media placement restrictions (see rule 15.18 and Food: HFSS Media Placement) and HFSS ads directed at under-12s through their content, are not permitted to include promotions (rule 15.14) or celebrities and licensed characters popular with children (see rule 15.15 and Children: Food).
Marketers are advised to have evidence of each of their products’ classifications on file, so they can easily justify their approach if challenged. Non-HFSS products will not be covered by the new rules, but marketers will still need to be able to satisfy the ASA that the product advertised is non-HFSS.
Updated 29 June 2017
HFSS foods and 'junk food' aren't the same thing. This page sets out the proper methodology we use to assess whether or not a food is high in fat, salt or sugar.