The advertising of food, drink and supplements has come under scrutiny for a variety of reasons, such as concerns around promoting the consumption of unhealthy foods or making dubious nutritional claims. To protect consumers, especially children, and prevent them from being misled, we have strict rules in place for the advertising of food, drink and supplements.
When it comes to children, the emphasis is on advertisers creating responsible ads and the rules make clear they should not promote poor nutritional habits or unhealthy lifestyles. Advertisers are not allowed to use licensed characters in food and drink ads targeted at children, nor can they feature sales promotions in content targeted at this audience. We have also previously banned ads that exploit children’s vulnerability by suggesting they would be inferior if they did not eat or buy the product being advertised, and ads that have encouraged “pester power”.
Another key aspect of advertising food, drink and supplements is the promotion of the product’s health benefits. Advertisers are, of course, entitled to bring to the public’s attention the nutritional worth of their products but the rules in place are tough. The Advertising Codes reflect wide-reaching EU legislation and advertisers must hold evidence for authorised health claims as required by an EU Register. Claims that state or imply a food, drink or supplement prevents, treats or cures human disease are not permitted under any circumstances. Reduction of disease claims are allowed but only if they appear on the EU Register and only if they are presented clearly without exaggeration.