Tough new rules for junk food ads

  • Deborah Condon

New rules governing the advertising of fatty and sugary foods to children will come into effect next July, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has said.

The rules, which will apply to television and radio ads, will target food and drink which are considered high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS). These will include crisps, most breakfast cereals, most pizzas, biscuits, French fries, mayonnaise, butter and carbonated sweetened drinks.

Ads containing these products will not be permitted during children's programmes. While ads for these products that are shown outside of children's programmes, but are directed at children, will have to follow specific rules relating to their content.

These rules include a ban on the use of celebrities or sports stars in these ads, a ban on the use of characters seen in programmes, such as Peppa Pig and a ban on promotional offers. These ads must also contain no health or nutritional claims.

According to the BAI, it has agreed to use the ‘nutrient profiling model' to determine whether a food or drink is HFSS. However, following advice from the Department of Health, cheese will be exempt from this model. In other words, ads for cheese will still be allowed to be broadcast during children's programmes.

This move was welcomed by Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, who commented that ‘common sense had prevailed on this important issue'.

"I am glad that in considering this matter, all of the relevant authorities recognised the critically important role that dairy products, including cheese, play as a part of a healthy, balanced diet for our children," he said.

Meanwhile, the BAI has also said that no more than 25% of ads sold by a broadcaster can be for HFSS foods.

The news was welcomed by Safefood. According to its vice chairperson, Darina Allen, ‘anything that can be done in this area to protect the health and wellbeing of our children is to be encouraged'.

The rules, which come into effect on July 1, 2013, will apply to all TV and radio broadcasters regulated in the Republic of Ireland.

Discussions on this topic are now closed.