Food advertising directed at children is a hot topic. Throughout the world, initiatives are being discussed to promote a healthy diet and lifestyle and to prevent children from obtaining unhealthy dietary habits. New self-regulation in the Netherlands entails one of these initiatives. The Dutch self-regulation Advertising Code for Food Products has been amended as of 1 January 2015. The most important change: an extension of the ban on food advertising directed at children.

Until January 1st, advertising was not allowed to be directed at children under seven. This ban has now been stretched, prohibiting advertising directed at children under thirteen. However, the amended code also introduces an exception. Advertising may still be directed at children aged seven to thirteen, if the food product advertised meets certain nutritional values. These values are maximum amounts of energy, salt, fat and sugar and, for some food categories, minimum amounts of certain substances (e.g. vitamins or a certain percentage of unsaturated fats). If the food product falls within the set values, they can still be advertised towards children aged seven to thirteen. The amended code does not exclude advertising for entire categories of "less healthy" foods, such as ice-cream and potato-chips. Advertising towards children aged seven to thirteen for these categories of products is therefore still possible, as long as the products meet the nutritional values.

The new code was entered into force on the first of January 2015. As to the stricter rules on advertising directed at children, a transitional period applies: campaigns already running can be continued for 6 months, or until the annual media contract runs out.

A more elaborate discussion of this subject by the authors will be published in the European Food and Feed law Review (EFFL), issue 1/2015.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.