18th December 2023
A key aspect of these new regulations is their expansion to encompass online advertising, acknowledging the ever-growing influence of digital media on food and drink promotions. What’s currently at the forefront, however, is the public consultation phase of this process. This consultation is now open, providing a platform for everyone, from everyday consumers to industry experts, to voice their opinions and contribute to shaping the final outcome of these regulations. You can access the consultation document and share your insights through this link: Consultation on ‘Less Healthy’ Food Ads. For readers seeking more of a foundational understanding of the legislation, click here for an in-depth interview with ASA representative Andrew Taylor.
Timeline and Evolution of the Consultation Process
The journey towards these updated regulations was marked by key stages, each contributing to the final shape of the guidance:
Defining HFSS Products and the Applicable Codes
Under these new regulations, HFSS products are items that score high on the Department of Health’s nutrient profiling model. This model involves scoring foods based on their nutritional content, with ‘less healthy’ products being those that score higher due to negative nutritional aspects like fat, salt, or sugar, and a lack of beneficial nutrients. Specifically, ‘less healthy’ foods score 4 or more points, and drinks score 1 or more points. Under the new regulations, the advertising of products that break these thresholds is now more stringently regulated under both the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) Code to mitigate their visibility and appeal, especially to vulnerable groups such as children.
“HFSS products are identified through nutrient profiling, which involves apportioning positive and negative scores to different nutritional aspects of a 100g reference amount of a product. HFSS products are those foods scoring 4 or more points, and drinks scoring 1 or more points.”
CAP and BCAP Consultation Annex A