These rules apply to all marketing communications for food products and should
be read in conjunction with the relevant legislation:
1) Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October, 2011, on the provision of food information to consumers as amended, including Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No. 1337/2013 and its implementing legislation in Ireland, European Union (Provision of Food Information to Consumers) Regulations, 2014 (S.I. No. 556/2014).
2) Regulation (EC) No. 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods (the EU Regulation) together with the amending legislation. They apply to all marketing communications for food products.
The EU Regulation on nutrition and health claims is mandatory and seeks to protect consumers from misleading or false claims. It came into force in July, 2007, but was subject to a series of complex transitional periods (see www.fsai.ie). Specific conditions of use associated with authorised health and nutrition claims are determined at a European level. The EU Register of nutrition and health claims (the EU Register) lists all authorised nutrition and health claims as well as non-authorised health claims that have been rejected.
Some transitional periods still apply, for instance, those affecting trademarks or brand names in use prior to 1 January, 2005. In addition, there are certain claims which the European Commission has placed “on hold” whilst discussions take place on the best way forward for these types of claims. Claims that are on hold are subject to an extended transition period and are still permitted for use.
The ASAI encourages advertising industry stakeholders to take advice on the effect
of the EU Regulation.
For the purposes of the rules in this Section:
(a) “Nutrition claim” means any claim which states, suggests or implies that a food has particular beneficial nutritional properties due to:
(i) the energy (calorific value) it provides; provides at a reduced or increased rate; or does not provide; and/or
(ii) the nutrients or other substances it contains; contains in reduced or increased proportions; or does not contain.
(b) “Health claim” means any claim that states, suggests or implies that a relationship exists between a food category, a food or one of its constituents and health.
(c) “Reduction of disease risk claim” means any health claim that states, suggests or implies that the consumption of a food category, a food or one of its constituents significantly reduces a risk factor in the development of a human disease.
Marketing communications for food should not make reference to consumer taste or preference tests in any way that might imply statistical validity if there is no such validity, and should not use scientific terms to ascribe validity to an advertising claim which is not valid.
Marketing communications for food representing any material characteristics of the product, including size and content, should be accurate and should not mislead consumers concerning any of those characteristics, or the intended use of the product.
Only nutrition claims listed in the updated Annex of the EU Regulation (as reproduced in the EU Register) may be used in marketing communications.
Only health claims listed as authorised in the EU Register, or claims that would have the same meaning to the consumer, may be used in marketing communications.
Marketing communications that contain nutrition or health claims should be supported by documentary evidence substantiating that they meet the conditions of use associated with the relevant claim, as specified in the EU Register.
A comparison may only be made between foods of the same category, taking into consideration a range of foods of that category. The difference in the quantity of a nutrient and/or the energy value shall be stated and the comparison shall relate to the same quantity of food.
Comparative nutrition claims shall compare the composition of the food in question with a range of foods of the same category, which do not have a composition which allows them to bear a claim, including foods of other brands.
The following are not acceptable in marketing communications for food products:
(a) Claims that state or imply health could be affected by not consuming a food.
(b) Claims that state or imply a food prevents, treats or cures human disease. Reduction of disease risk claims are acceptable if authorised by the European Commission.
(c) Health claims that refer to the recommendation of an individual health professional. Health claims that refer to the recommendation of an association are acceptable only if that association is a health-related charity or a national representative body of medicine, nutrition or dietetics.
(d) References to changes in bodily functions that could give rise to, or exploit, fear in the audience.
(e) Claims of a nutrition or health benefit that give rise to doubt about the safety or nutritional adequacy of another product.
(f) Health claims that refer to a rate or amount of weight loss.
In addition to all other rules in this Section, marketing communications for food and beverages addressed to children:
(a) Should not denigrate a healthy lifestyle or encourage an unhealthy lifestyle or unhealthy eating or drinking habits; marketing communications representing mealtime should clearly and adequately depict the role of the product, where appropriate, within the framework of a balanced diet; snack foods should be clearly represented as such, and
not as substitutes for meals.
(b) Should not mislead children as to the potential benefits from consumption of the product, either physically, socially or psychologically.
Marketing communications for food products that are targeted through their content directly at pre-school or primary school children should not include a promotional offer, subject to the exceptions listed below:
(i) Marketing communications for fresh fruit and/or fresh vegetables;
(ii) Marketing communications carried in media subject to the BAI Children’s Commercial Communications Code for products characterised by that code as being permitted to be advertised to children;
(iii) Point of sale displays, packages, wrappers, labels, tickets, timetables and menus.
See Guidance Note on Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages.
Additionally, for children under 16:
(a) Except those for fresh fruit or fresh vegetables, marketing communications should not seem to encourage children to eat or drink a product only to take advantage of a promotional offer: the product should be offered on its merits, with the offer as an added incentive.
(b)Marketing communications featuring a promotional offer should ensure a significant presence for the product.
(c)Marketing communications featuring a promotional offer linked to a food product of interest to children should avoid creating a sense of urgency or encouraging the purchase of an excessive quantity for irresponsible consumption.
(d)Marketing communications should not encourage children to eat more than they otherwise would.
(e)Marketing communications for collection-based promotions should not seem to urge children or their parents to buy excessive quantities of food.
Licensed Characters and Celebrities
(a) Licensed characters and celebrities popular with children should always be used with a due sense of responsibility.
(b) Marketing communications for food products that are targeted through their content directly at pre-school or primary school children should not include licensed characters or celebrities popular with children, subject to the exceptions listed below:
(i) Marketing Communications for fresh fruit and/or fresh vegetables;
(ii) Marketing Communications carried in media subject to the BAI Children’s Commercial Communications Code for products characterised by that code as being permitted to be advertised to children;
(iii) Point of sale displays, packages, wrappers, labels, tickets, timetables and menus;
(iv) The prohibition does not apply to advertiser-created equity brand characters (puppets, persons or characters), which may be used by advertisers to sell the products they were designed to sell;
(v) Licensed characters and celebrities popular with children may present factual and relevant generic statements about nutrition, safety, education or similar.
See Guidance Note on Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages.
Claims referring to children’s development and health are acceptable if authorised by the European Union (see Section 8.8).
Although children might be expected to exercise some preference over the food they eat or drink, marketing communications should be prepared with a due sense of responsibility and should not directly advise or ask children to buy or to ask their parents or other adults to make enquiries or purchases for them.
Marketing communications that contain nutrition or health claims should be supported by documentary evidence to show they meet the conditions of use associated with the relevant claim as specified in the EU Register.
Marketing communications should not suggest or imply that a well-balanced diet needs to be augmented by vitamins or minerals on a regular basis. Advertisers may offer supplements as a safeguard and may refer to the vitamin and mineral content of a particular product but should not suggest that there is a widespread vitamin or mineral deficiency. Marketing
communications should not imply that supplements will guard against dietary deficiency, elevate mood or enhance performance and supplements should not be promoted as a substitute for a healthy diet. Marketing communications should not claim that a food supplement is capable of preventing, treating or curing disease.
Marketing communications may promote vitamin and mineral supplementation to certain categories of people, e.g. those who eat nutritionally inadequate meals, the elderly, children and adolescents, convalescents, athletes in training, those who pursue physically very active occupations or recreations, women of child-bearing age and dieters.
Although there may be some depletion of vitamin stores during illness, a marketing communication should not suggest that the replacement of such vitamins will influence the speed or extent of recovery. The prescribing of vitamins and minerals in such cases is a matter for a doctor and selfmedication should not be encouraged.
These rules should be read in conjunction with the relevant legislation including the ‘European Communities (Infant Formulae and Follow On Formula) Regulations, 2007’ (S.I. No. 852/2007).
Marketing communications for infant formula are prohibited unless they appear in scientific publications, or are for the purposes of trade before the retail stage, or are a publication for which the intended readers are not the general public.
Marketing communications for follow on formula addressed to the general public should:
(a) Be designed to provide the necessary information about the appropriate use of the products so as not to discourage breast-feeding.
(b) Not use the terms ‘humanised’, ‘maternalised’, ‘adapted’ or similar terms.