Code for Advertising of Food 2006

April 2006


All advertisements for food and beverages consumed by humans ("food") shall adhere to the Principles and Guidelines set out in this Code. The purpose of the Code is to ensure that advertising of food will be conducted in a manner that is socially responsible and does not mislead or deceive the consumer. Advertisements should not undermine the Healthy Eating, Healthy Action (HEHA) policy of Government, the Ministry of Health 'Food and Nutrition Guidelines' nor the health and wellbeing of individuals. The key applicable messages in the HEHA policy are the need for people to eat a variety of nutritious foods, less fatty, salty and sugary foods and more vegetables and fruits.

In interpreting the Code emphasis will be placed on the Principles and the spirit and intention of the Code. An advertisement that does or does not adhere to the letter of a particular law or Guideline nevertheless may or may not be in breach of the Code, depending on its compliance with the Principles and respect of the spirit and intention of the Code.


For the purposes of this Code:

"Appropriate industry Code of Ethics" includes the New Zealand Infant Formula Marketers' Association "Code of Practice for the Marketing of Infant Formula" and any other industry Code endorsed by the ASA.

"Food and Nutrition Guidelines" are the Food and Nutrition Guidelines published by the Ministry of Health.

"Social Responsibility" is not defined in order not to confine its meaning and hamper the discretion of the Advertising Standards Complaints Board. A list of precedents of the Board is contained on the ASA website www.asa.co.nz.

"Treat food" is food high in fat, salt, or sugar and intended for occasional treats. (Refer to Ministry of Health's 'Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Children aged 2-12 years)

Principle 1 - Advertisements should comply with the laws of New Zealand and appropriate industry Code of Ethics.



In addition to food related legislation advertisers should be familiar with the restrictions on advertising in the Food Act 1981, New Zealand (Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code) Food Standards 2002 (Food Standards Code), and the requirements of the Fair Trading Act 1986.


The Food Standards Code has labelling requirements. Pictorial depictions, names, descriptions and other information in advertisements should not be inconsistent with labelling requirements.

Principle 2 - All food advertisements should be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and to society. However advertisements containing nutrient, nutrition or health claims*, should observe a high standard of social responsibility.



Nutrient, nutrition and health claims should not be inconsistent with national health and nutrition policy and should comply with the requirements of the Food Standards Code.

Note: The Food Standards Code is in a state of change. Please refer to the ASA website for information. The Food Standards Code is available on www.foodstandards.gov.au

Principle 3 - Advertisements directed at children should observe a high standard of social responsibility.



Advertisements for treat foods directed at children should not actively encourage children to eat or drink them inappropriately or in excess.


Advertisements for treat food, snacks or fast food should not encourage children to consume them in substitution for a main meal on a regular basis.


Advertisements for nutritious foods important for a healthy diet as stipulated in the Food and Nutrition Guidelines for children are encouraged to advocate the benefits of such foods, particularly when directed at children. A large and liberal but commonsense interpretation is allowed. However, benefits should not be exaggerated and should not imply that a single food should replace a healthy diet.


Advertisements should not encourage excessive consumption or inappropriately large portions of any particular food nor should they undermine the Food and Nutrition Guidelines for children.


Advertisements for slimming products or foods sold as an aid to slimming should not be directed at children.


Persons, characters or groups who have achieved particular celebrity status with children shall not be used in advertisements to promote food in such a way so as to undermine a healthy diet taking into account Food and Nutrition Guidelines for children.


Attention is drawn to the Code for Advertising to Children.

Principle 4 - Advertisements should not by implication, omission, ambiguity or exaggerated claim mislead or deceive or be likely to mislead or deceive consumers, abuse the trust of or exploit the lack of knowledge of consumers, exploit the superstitious or without justifiable reason play on fear.



All nutrient, nutritional and health claims* should be factual, not misleading, and able to be substantiated. Claims should be compliant with the requirements of the Food Standards Code.


The nature of the audience should be taken into account particularly when advertisements contain nutrient, nutritional and health claims*.


Food advertisements containing obvious hyperbole, identifiable as such are not considered misleading.


Claims in an advertisement should not be inconsistent with information on the label or packaging of the food.


Advertisements should not claim or imply endorsement by any government agency, professional body or independent agency unless there is prior consent, the claim and the endorsement verifiable, current and the agency or body named.


Care should be taken to ensure advertisements do not mislead as to the nutritive value of any food. Foods high in sugar, fat and/or salt, especially those marketed to and/or favoured by children, should not be portrayed in any way that suggests they are beneficial to health.

*Note: The law currently prohibits health claims, but is under review.


Advertising Standards Authority New Zealand, PO Box 10-675, Wellington 6143. PH (04) 472 7852 FAX (04) 471 1785 Email asa@asa.co.nz