UK Marketers to Toughen Voluntary Food Ad Restrictions

22 February 2007

LONDON: British advertisers are poised to introduce radical but voluntary new restrictions on the advertising of food and non-alcoholic drinks. The proposed new rules were outlined Wednesday at the Department of Health's Food and Drink Advertising and Promotion Forum in London.

According to, the ad-industry's self-regulatory Committee for Advertising Practice has mooted a tougher regime than that tabled for TV by communications regulator Ofcom.

Moreover, CAP's recommendation extends from broadcast media to the internet, newspapers and magazine, outdoor and cinema.

The initiative was triggered by CAP's near-unanimous disagreement with the government's Food Standards Agency as to its definition of 'junk food'.

Using the FSA definition, certain types of honey, raisins, cheese and Greek yoghurt, plus branded fare like All-Bran and Marmite would be banned from advertising. But there would be no such restriction on foods such as chicken nuggets, curry and bleached white bread.

The CAP alternative proposes extending the current 'exemption category' (restricted to fruit and vegetables) to include such products as milk, water, low-fat yoghurt and mineral or pro-biotic drinks.

Foods in this category would not be subject to advertising restrictions. Ads for all other foods and drinks would be regulated and possibly banned.

  • Meantime, Ofcom, still under fire from food advertisers and agencies for its proposed ban on broadcast ads for all foods high in fats, salt and sugar (HFSS), on Wednesday raised its head above the parapet to proclaim it will "vigorously defend" any legal challenge to its extension of the ban.

    Ofcom released proposals last November for regulating the advertising of foods high in fat, salt and sugar to children under ten years. Shortly after the announcement it proposed a shock extension of the ban to include programmes targeting the 10-15 age group.

    Says Ofcom ceo Ed Richards: "We are perfectly prepared to end up in court. We've got our positions clear - that's why we have taken our time over it. We have taken advice and think we've got a robust position."

    Data sourced from and Media Week (UK); additional content by WARC staff