Revised code on marketing, advertising to children to go to ASA

Since 2006, the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) has engaged its members, relevant stakeholders and the Department of Health (DoH) in the development of a code for marketing and advertising to children. The DoH regards the code as relevant to its strategy to fight obesity and non-communicable diseases. In August 2008, the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) adopted the code as part of its Food and Beverage Code, Appendix M.

Having acknowledged the code as a “good start”, the DoH in 2014 proceeded to publish new draft regulations pertaining to Labelling and Advertising of Foodstuffs, R429. Within R429, Guideline 14 and Regulation 65 address the issue of marketing to children. Raising concerns regarding the restrictions and anticipated unintended consequences, the CGCSA proposed an alternative to Guideline 14.

In September 2014, the IAB SA made submissions to the DoH indicating that the organisation would work with the department to find alternatives to set standards for self- or co-regulation.

Reacting to the DoH’s draft regulations, Andrew Allison, head of the IAB SA’s Regulatory Affairs Council, pointed out that the regulations were not only “unduly onerous and flawed” but also particularly concerning due to the overall lack of understanding of the digital industry, digital communications and digital transactions. The IAB SA is also concerned that the regulations could result in an unfair bias against the South African food and beverage industry.

Find the IAB SA’s comment here.

The CGCSA established three working groups that convened over many months to improve the code. The IAB SA attended Working Group 1 (Code Revision) and Working Group 3 (Code Monitoring) sessions, providing input on digital and online matters and motivating that the need for a regulatory impact assessment once again be brought to the attention of the DoH.

Once codified and enforced by ASASA, the code is set to impose stringent conditions on the food industry’s marketing practices in relation to children. These conditions will be monitored by CGCSA.

The CGCSA will submit the proposed revised code to the ASA by March 31 2015 to be included in the 2015 code revision cycle. Since the code is yet to be submitted to the DoH and the ASA, the CGCSA is not ready to publicise the actual code.

Thank you to the CGCSA for providing background information on the code and its progress to date.