Food & Media Industries to Comply with Guidelines for Food Advertising to Children from 1 January 2015

Food and Media Industries to Comply with Guidelines for Food Advertising to Children from 1 January 2015

Ministry of Health, Singapore

New guidelines aimed at reducing children’s exposure to advertising of food and beverages high in fat, sugar and salt will take effect from 1 January 2015.

The guidelines will be incorporated into the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice (SCAP), and administered by Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS), an advisory council under the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE), for industry self-regulation.

The comprehensive guidelines were developed by a public-private partnership consortium comprising stakeholders from MOH, HPB, ASAS, a Council of the Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE), Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF), Food Industry Asia (FIA) as well as representatives from media and advertising industries.

The aims of the Committee on Guidelines for Food Advertising to Children were to develop the guidelines and put in place a framework to govern food advertising targeted at children 12 years or younger across all media in Singapore.

Together, the Committee worked with all stakeholders to put in place an implementable framework to shift the balance of advertising towards food and beverage products that are healthier in nutrient composition.

Advertisers and Food Manufacturers can refer to the Common Nutrition Criteria for determining which food and beverage products can be advertised to children. Advertisers and Food Manufacturers will also have a three-month grace period until end December 2014 to adapt and ease into the requirements. This was announced by Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Health, today.

More information on the committee is at Annex A.

ASAS Advisory on Children’s Code for Advertising Food and Beverage Products

The guidelines require all food and beverage products promoted in marketing communications targeted at children aged 12 and below to meet the Common Nutrition Criteria. The guidelines will apply to all media platforms.

Food and beverage marketing communications primarily targeted at children in all media will be assessed using the following criteria:

(a) Placement – i.e. whether the key target audience of the medium is children. For example, a TV channel that only broadcasts children’s programmes or a TV channel that broadcasts children’s programmes in specific time belts.
(b) Advertising content – i.e. whether advertising tools and techniques used are designed to appeal specifically to children. Examples would include the use of licensed characters or toys; use of interactive games or contests; and overall creative execution such as the use of language and visuals that are directed primarily at children.

The following are not included within the scope of the guidelines:
a) The product itself, including the packaging
b) Ordinary display in store / at point of sale
c) Sponsorship, where this only entails the use of the sponsor’s name and / or trademark
d) Use of brand equity characters

More information on the guidelines is at Annex B.

A set of interpretative guidelines has also been developed to help the industry comply with the food advertising guidelines for the different media platforms. The “Children’s Code for Food and Beverage Products Marketing Communications: Interpretative Guidelines” is available at:

Common Nutrition Criteria

The Common Nutrition Criteria is a framework to help food manufacturers determine which food and beverage products can be advertised to children. The Criteria applies to both packaged food and food services. As part of the development process, the Committee worked to ensure that the nutrition criteria developed are scientifically grounded, relevant to the local context and clear and transparent to foster ease of implementation and monitoring. More information is in Annex C.

The “Common Nutrition Criteria White Paper” is available on the ASAS website at

Implementation and Monitoring

Any advertiser wishing to promote food and beverage products in marketing communications that are directed primarily at children aged 12 years and below will need to complete the Nutrition Criteria Compliance Certificate and provide the media owner with the completed certificate. For any food or beverage marketing communication not accompanied by a duly completed Nutrition Criteria Compliance Certificate, media owners should assume that the product does not meet the Common Nutrition Criteria and therefore ensure that the marketing communication is not placed in media targeted primarily at children.

ASAS will undertake the monitoring of compliance to the guidelines at two levels:

· Complaint handling – all media covered by the guidelines

· Ex post facto compliance monitoring – Monitoring of television, print, internet and outdoors advertising will be based on periodic spot checks of samples of media communications in these areas. These media constitute more than 90 per cent of the food and beverage industry’s advertising expenditure.

An annual ASAS compliance report will be compiled, starting end 2015.

ASAS will conduct workshops in November 2014 to provide training for key stakeholders such as brand owners, media owners, media compliance officers, creative and media agencies. The objective of the workshops is to ensure maximum compliance by building common understanding and ensuring consistent implementation of the Guidelines.

The Committee on Guidelines for Food Advertising to Children will continue to meet on a six-monthly basis for the next two years (2015-2016) to review the situation post-implementation.

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