Food for thought: are you ready for the new HFSS rules?

Last December, we announced new restrictions on HFSS advertising in non-broadcast media. These will come into effect soon.

From 1 July 2017, HFSS advertisements will be subject to media placement restrictions and any other HFSS ads that are directed at under-12s through their content will not be allowed to use promotions or celebrities and licensed characters popular with children.

These are big changes focused on ensuring that advertising self-regulation continues to deliver proportionate protections for our children. But, CAP is also conscious of the potential burdens on businesses.

We want to help you to comply with the rules. Our Copy Advice team are ready to provide fast, free advice on ad copy. Here’s a helpful checklist of what you need to know.

  • Identify your HFSS products using the Department of Health nutrient profiling model. Make sure you've got the evidence to hand should the ASA receive a complaint. They'll expect you to show them that products aren't HFSS. See this article for more advice.
  • Ensure you place any ads for these products away from children’s media or other media where they make up more than 25% of the audience. Using measurement data and analytics are the best way to satisfy the ASA. CAP has produced new guidance on ad placement and on interest-based targeting in online environments like social networks. See also this article for further details.
  • Be careful of brand advertising – if a piece of branding is synonymous with a specific HFSS product, using it even without featuring or referencing the product itself could be a problem. CAP has produced new guidance to help advertisers identify such issues. See this article for more information.
  • Don’t get caught out by cross-media campaigns; in particular, promotions. Although you can still use promotions on things like packaging and at point of sale, the entry page on your website will be covered by the rules. Consider using non-products branding or generic branding (provided that it doesn't fall foul of being synonymous with an HFSS product).
  • Remember, HFSS ads placed in accordance with the HFSS placement restriction are still subject to content rules. If your content is likely to be seen as directly targeting under-12s (e.g. directly addressing them or featuring child-oriented imagery without clearly targeting parents), you can’t include promotions, or licensed characters or celebs popular with under-16s.

We’ve also launched a new online training module to help advertisers get to grips with the new and existing rules on advertising food and soft drinks to children in non-broadcast media.  You can find out more on our eLearning page.


More on


  • Keep up to date

    Sign up to our rulings, newsletters and emargoed access for Press. Register now