Just as we move into the less healthy eating season, there is a further development in the long-running saga of new restrictions on advertising for HFSS foods.

CAP and BCAP are consulting on the implementation in 2025 of new rules reflecting the new restrictions on advertising less healthy food and drink to children on TV, and in on-demand programme services (ODPS) and paid online ad media.

Readers will be aware that in 2022, the UK Government introduced (and delayed the effect of) legislation providing for restrictions on ads for “less healthy” food and drink products. Ofcom is the statutory body responsible for the new restrictions and has appointed the ASA as the frontline regulator. Rules reflecting the new restrictions will be incorporated into the UK Advertising Codes.

The new rules will come into effect from October 2025. They will prohibit ads for identifiable less healthy products from being included in Ofcom-regulated TV services and ODPS between 5.30am and 9.00pm, and from being placed in paid-for space in online media at any time. Less healthy products are a subset of products classified as high fat, salt or sugar, which have been subject to dedicated restrictions in the UK Advertising Codes since 2007. The less healthy product rules will form a new tier of rules in addition to CAP and BCAP’s existing HFSS rules.

The consultation covers three areas that support the implementation of the new restrictions:

  • guidance to accompany the new rules to enable advertisers, media owners and practitioners to apply them;
  • transposition of the legislation into new UK Advertising Code rules for each of the restrictions; and
  • technical updates to the existing rules to ensure interoperability of the less healthy product rules with the existing rules on HFSS advertising.

The consultation ends on 7 February 2024. Watch this space for more information about the proposed guidance on the new rules, and new guidance on differentiating ads for HFSS goods from branding.  In the meantime, you can see our guide on HFSS advertising here.