Loopholes in HFSS ad rules must be closed

Asda Mac and Cheese burger

Sir, While we welcome recent rulings by the ASA on McDonald’s and Burger King adverts outside primary schools, the failure to clamp down on several identical junk food ads placed outside nurseries, children’s centres or other venues frequented by young people raises questions about both the robustness of the rules and their interpretation.

Case investigations on junk food have taken months, by which time advertising campaigns have often moved on, so sanctions for non-compliance are minimal.

These loopholes must be closed by the Committee for Advertising Practices (CAP) if HFSS advertising rules are to be meaningful.

We share the Obesity Health Alliance’s dismay over the Kellogg’s Coco Pops ruling u-turn, that the ASA can be so easily swayed from their well-considered original ruling as a result of corporate pressure.

In the government’s Childhood Obesity Plan Chapter Two, it suggests placing the self-regulation of the Committees for Advertising Practices and ASA under review, and considering a stronger regulatory approach if necessary. We would also welcome that review.

Barbara Crowther, Children’s Food Campaign/Sustain

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