Ensure compliance with the new HFSS rules

29 June 2017
Tools to help you prepare for the the new HFSS rules which take effect from 01 July 2017.

Recent studies have shown that young people are now spending more and more of their time online, rather than watching TV. While the desire for internet access has more than surpassed the need to look for the remote, the shift in platform preferences needed to be addressed from a regulatory point of view. 

While existing BCAP codes governed how HFSS products were advertised on TV, they did not translate to the digital environment.

All that is to change however, as on 01 July, the CAP Code on advertising food and soft drinks to children will be brought into line with existing rules on TV advertising. This now means that ads that ‘directly or indirectly promote an HFSS product cannot appear in children’s media’, be it print, cinema, or digital – and that includes social media and advergames. 

As on TV, advertisements for HFSS products can no longer appear on children's media and cannot rely on licensed characters or celebrities popular with children to promote them, regardless of the platform used. 

While generally welcomed by the industry, the ‘tough’ new rules do present a challenge for advertisers and as the Code comes into effect, here are some useful tools to help ensure you comply: 


  • Review ISBA’s teach-in session with CAP: watch as representatives from CAP outline the key aspects of the Code and the impacts for advertisers. Watch online here > 
  • HFSS products are classified using the Department of Health Nutrient Profiling Guide. To review the NP score for your product, and whether it is classified as HFSS, download the model.
  • ‘Children’s Media’: the new CAP Code states that in media where children account for more than 25% of the audience, ads for HFSS products are not permitted. A number of measures can be taken to ensure compliance, including data and analytics and where such insight is not available, other factors will be assessed. Find out more here >
  • CAP Resources: take advantage of CAP resources such as the Copy Advice Team, which provides free advice, to help identify any issues with concepts, imagery and/or copy. Find out more here >. A newly launched eLearning module is also available to provide insights on the key rules that apply to non-broadcast ads. Find out more here >
  • Further information relating to brand advertising and promotions can be found on the CAP website.
  • Review the CAP & BCAP Codes: links to the Codes, including a summary of the key aspects of the new non-broadcast rules can be found on the ISBA website


As the advertisers’ representative on CAP, ISBA had significant input into the direction of the new rules, taking the concerns and needs of our members into account.

We fully support the new rules, designed as a means to protect children and ensure that 'advertising regulation plays its part in tackling the public health challenges related to poor childhood diet and responds effectively to fundamental changes in the way children consumer media.' We will continue to ensure the needs and concerns of our members are met in all future developments.

Key elements of the code for advertisers: 

  • Ads that directly or indirectly promote an HFSS product cannot appear in children’s media
  • Ads for HFSS products cannot appear in other media where children make up over 25% of the audience
  • Ads for HFSS products will not be allowed to use promotions, licensed characters and celebrities popular with children; advertisers may now use those techniques to better promote healthier options
  • The Department of Health nutrient profiling model will be used to classify which products are HFSS

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