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ACA recognizes children are a special audience. That’s why ACA supports the government’s objective to restrict messages about the consumption and choice of food and beverage products to children under the age of 13.

Fact

Mandatory code logo red - Advertising to childrenIn Canada, advertising to children for foods and beverages that do not meet Health Canada’s nutrition standards are already restricted through a Code and supporting Guide, independently administered by Ad Standards, underpinned by a complaint procedure.

ACA recommends that all advertising messages for food and beverages in all media that might reasonably be seen as primarily directed to children are submitted to Ad Standards for preclearance.

The Code restrictions are based on and exceed Health Canada’s Draft Guide (2018).
The centre piece of Code and Guide are sections 248 and 249 of la Loi de la protection du consommateur – a successful Canadian solution that has restricted advertising to children in Quebec for over 40 years.

Cause for concern

Despite restrictions already in place, industry is faced with a two-track challenge: Bill C-252 and Health Canada’s Policy Update. Both tracks will go beyond restricting advertising to children, threatening the ability to advertise legal food and beverage products to adults, as well as introducing provisions to increase the age definition of children from under 13 to under 17.

Current status

Bill C-252
Bill C-252 completed its 3rd reading in the House October 25, 2023, and is currently in 2nd reading in the Senate. ACA is working to guarantee a commitment to adequate study of the Bill before committee, including presentations by ACA and other industry stakeholders, ensuring our concerns are heard and addressed.
Health Canada’s Policy Update
Health Canada intends to amend the Food and Drug Regulations to restrict advertising to children of foods that contribute to excess intakes of sodium, sugars and saturated fat, irrespective of the passing of Bill C-252.

As currently written, it will also capture advertising to adults and threatens to increase the age definition of a child.

ACA provided a substantial response to Health Canada’s request for feedback in June 2023. We have since entered, and are having ongoing discussions with Health Canada to again, ensure concerns are heard and addressed before Health Canada issues Canada Gazette Part 1, expected later this Spring.

Resources

The Code for the Responsible Advertising of Food and Beverage Products to Children
The Guide for the Responsible Advertising of Food and Beverage Products to Children
Ad Standards’ Clearance for Responsible Advertising of Food and Beverage Products to Children
Ad Standards’ Consumer Complaint Procedure for Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising
Minisite: Mandatory Code

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Member Alerts

Media Releases

(June 27, 2023) New Restrictions on Food Advertising Directed at Children Effective June 28
(June 28, 2021) Advertising Industry Commits to New Food and Beverage Code and Guide to Deliver on Government’s Objectives on Advertising to Children

Media Coverage

(July 9, 2021) iPolitics: The Sprout: Food, beverage industry restricting junk-food advertising
(July 9, 2021) strategy: Food and beverage associations adopt code for advertising to kids
(June 4, 2019) Globe and Mail: Senators working to block bill that restricts food and drink ads aimed at children

Have a question?

For more information, contact:
Judy Davey
VP Media Policy and Marketing Capabilities
416-964-2791 / 1-800-565-0109 / .