Majority of food advertisers compliant with advertising codes, says ASA

The majority of food advertisers complied with the advertising codes last year, according to the Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) Food and Soft Drink Survey 2009.

The survey comes as the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) presses for a ban on all junk food advertising before 9pm.

It is the ASA’s third survey of the food and drink sector since 2007, when new, stricter food and soft drink advertising rules were introduced in response to public concern about childhood obesity and the need to protect children’s health.

The survey, which assessed 1,110 ads across all media, found only seven were considered to be in breach of the advertising codes and none of the ads breached the new children’s food advertising rules – meaning 99.4% of ads were compliant. There were also no breaches in online media.

The children’s food and soft drink advertising rules state that ads should not:
– condone or encourage poor nutritional habits or an unhealthy lifestyle in children
– actively encourage them to eat or drink at or near bedtime, to eat frequently throughout the day or to replace main meals with confectionery or snack foods
– disparage good dietary practice
– promote consumption of a food purely to get a promotional offer
– encourage excessive consumption

Chief executive of the ASA, Guy Parker, says: “The ASA will not hesitate to take firm action against advertisers who breach the rules but, as this survey reveals, overall the food and soft drink sector continues to advertise responsibly. The compliance rate underlines the strength and effectiveness of our work and the industry’s commitment to maintaining high standards in advertising.”

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