Search icon


30th Jun 2021

New rules for advertising junk food designed to “protect the wellbeing of children”

Stephen Porzio

The new restrictions will come into effect this December.

The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) has unveiled new rules regarding the advertising of high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) products in order to “protect the wellbeing of children”.

The updated rules are aimed at limiting advertising for junk food from being directed or targeted at children under the age of 15 through the selection of media or the context in which they appear.

The ASAI said in a statement on its website: “The rules are in response to changing media habits among young people, as well as wider concerns in society about public health challenges for this age group.

“Thresholds for non-broadcast media will reduce the overall exposure to HFSS product marketing communications.”

Under the new rules, no medium can be used to advertise HFSS products if more than 50% of its audience is under 15 years old.

Locations primarily used by children – including schools, playgrounds and youth centres – will be prohibited to run any form of marketing communication for HFSS products.

Also, ads targeted at children for HFSS products cannot include a promotional offer or a competition, while there are certain restrictions on the use of licensed characters or celebrities popular with children.

On top of these, no more than 33% of available outdoor space can carry HFSS product marketing communications.

Meanwhile, for cinemas and digital and print media, no more than 25% of the available space can carry HFSS ads.

The new restrictions will come into effect on 1 December 2021 and will be incorporated into the Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages Section of the ASAI Code.

The code covers commercial marketing communications and sales promotions in all media in Ireland including digital web, social, mobile, in-game ads, influencer marketing, print, outdoor, radio, TV, leaflets and brochures, cinema, and direct marketing.

The ASAI has said it will be working with media and advertisers to ensure the successful rollout of the rules.

Chief Executive of the ASAI Orla Twomey said: “The implementation of these new rules in the ASAI Code are a significant and positive change designed to help and protect the wellbeing of children as well limit the overall exposure of HFSS advertising to the general public.

“Key industry groups support the implementation of the rules, demonstrating the advertising industry’s continuing commitment to advertising self-regulation.

“As well as limiting HFSS product advertising, the new rules will alter the nature of how food advertising is seen by children.”

For more information about the new rules, visit the ASAI’s website here.

LISTEN: You Must Be Jokin’ with Aideen McQueen – Faith healers, Coolock craic and Gigging as Gaeilge