Administration of the Code for Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising

Ad Standards administers the Code for the Responsible Advertising of Food and Beverage Products to Children (“Code for Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising” or CCFBA). This is done in several ways:

  1. Pre-clearance Services: Ad Standards offers preclearance services for advertisers subject to the new CCFBA and its Guide to facilitate compliance in all media. Under the Code, our analysts apply these new requirements in the context of the pre-existing regulatory framework. Each script is reviewed by two analysts for thoroughness and consistency. Scripts are assessed for compliance with the CCFBA and in accordance with the Guide. This review is in addition to review for compliance with the food regulatory regime, if requested by the advertiser. In the case of broadcast advertising, any child-directed commercial also requires clearance from the Children's Advertising Clearance Committee. Advertising that does not comply with the CCFBA will not be approved. Upon rejection or request to resubmit, advertisers may be required to amend the manner of presentation or proposed time and place of the ad in order to obtain approval.
  1. Complaint Response and Compliance Reporting: Complaints received will be adjudicated by Ad Standards.  For ads approved by Ad Standards Clearance Services under the Code and Guide, the complainant will be advised that these ads are compliant with the Code and Guide and no further action will be taken. All other complaints will be adjudicated in accordance with the complaints procedure for food and beverage advertising to children  and noncompliance may be publicly reported.
  1. Adding New Nutrient Criteria for Eligible Specific Foods: Under the CCFBA, advertising for a food or beverage product may not be primarily directed to persons under thirteen years of age unless the product satisfies the child advertising nutrition criteria set forth in Appendix A (the “Restriction”). The nutrition criteria in Appendix A sets out general criteria that apply to most prepackaged foods and beverages. Section 4 of Appendix A of the CCFBA also allows for additional select food and/or beverages to develop unique nutrition criteria where the rationale for such distinct criteria is science and evidence-based. The rationale can include the following: (a) the food/beverage is a staple food in the diets of Canadian children; (b) the food/beverage is recognized by Health Canada as an important food vehicle in delivering essential vitamins and minerals in children’s diets; and (c) the food/beverage is required by Canada’s Food and Drug Regulations to be enriched/fortified with prescribed levels of vitamin and minerals. Ad Standards will consider submissions from manufacturers of specific food/beverage products or categories that qualify under these criteria. It is anticipated that very few submissions will be considered or accepted. When it receives a submission for consideration of a new food/beverage to be considered for eligibility for unique nutrient criteria, Ad Standards will follow this process:

a) A rationale that is science and evidence-based along with the proposed unique nutrient criteria should be submitted to Catherine Bate, President and CEO at Ad Standards. This rationale should be signed by more than one manufacturer or by an industry association.

b) Ad Standards will share the proposed nutrient criteria and rationale for the input of the four primary industry associations responsible for the development of CCFBA, namely: the Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA), the Canadian Beverage Association (CBA), the Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada (FHCP), and Restaurants Canada.

c) Provided that the submission appears on its face to meet the required criteria, Ad Standards will next submit the proposed criteria to Health Canada and provide Health Canada with a 30-day period to respond with any questions or comments before adding them to the CCFBA.

d) If Health Canada provides questions or comments, before or after that 30-day period, the submitter of the proposed nutrient criteria will respond to such questions/comments and will keep Ad Standards informed about the nature of any such communications.

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