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New rules against advertising unhealthy food and drinks to children

SINGAPORE — From January next year, all food and beverage (F&B) products marketed to children aged 12 and below cannot exceed a specified amount of sodium, saturated fat and total sugars. They will also have a calorie cap, and must contain a certain quantity of healthy components.

Products that cannot be advertised to children include sugar and sugar-based products such as chocolate, as well as carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks. Photo: Reuters

Products that cannot be advertised to children include sugar and sugar-based products such as chocolate, as well as carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks. Photo: Reuters

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SINGAPORE — From January next year, all food and beverage (F&B) products marketed to children aged 12 and below cannot exceed a specified amount of sodium, saturated fat and total sugars. They will also have a calorie cap, and must contain a certain quantity of healthy components.

A new set of advertising guidelines require that all F&B products promoted in marketing communications for children aged 12 and below must meet the Common Nutrition Criteria, which has thresholds established for key nutrients for the different F&B product categories.

Products that cannot be advertised to children include sugar and sugar-based products such as chocolate, as well as carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks.

The guidelines also tackle areas in diet and lifestyle, pressure to purchase, promotional offers and popular personalities.

For instance, the guidelines state, among others, that marketing communications for F&B products to children should not encourage or promote unhealthy eating or drinking habits. They should not actively encourage children to eat excessively throughout the day and should feature quantities of food or portion sizes that are responsible and relevant to the scene depicted.

They should also “not imply that children are likely to be ridiculed, inferior to others, less popular, disloyal or have let someone down if they or their family do not use the advertised product”.

Placement and advertising content will be used to determine the advertising targeted at children.

The guidelines, developed by a public-private partnership consortium, will be incorporated into the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice, and administered by Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore, an advisory council under the Consumers Association of Singapore. They will apply to all media platforms.

Advertisers and Food Manufacturers will have a three-month grace period until end December to adapt and ease into the requirements.

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