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11 February 2019 / news

FoodBit: The Netherlands tightens rules on food advertising towards children

The Dutch Advertising Code for Foodstuffs has been amended.

September is ending. Flexibility isn't.

It now includes stricter rules on the use of children’s idols when advertising food products towards children.

As from 1 February, the Dutch Advertising Code for Foodstuffs (‘Code’) includes stricter rules regarding advertising towards children.

What are the changes?

  • Companies may no longer use children’s idols, such as cartoon or game characters, on food packaging of their products and point of sale material if the products do not fulfill the nutritional requirements of the Code;
  •  The use of the idols on food products aimed at children under the age of 7 is now totally prohibited.

An exception applies if the advertisement has been drafted in cooperation with or is endorsed by the government or certain recognized institutions (such as the National Institute for Sport and Exercise). The food business operator (or advertiser) has the burden of proof of both the (age group) aim of the advertising and any endorsements.

Although the use of children's idols has already been restricted for several years in advertising on TV, print, sports events, schools, online, etc., an exception was until now permitted for packaging and point of sale material.

The recent changes are the result of the National Prevention Agreement (Nationaal Preventieakkoord) concluded in November 2018 and intended to improve the Dutch public health by 2040.

Companies have 17 months to adjust to the new rules.

The Code is a piece of self-regulation that is part of the Dutch Advertising Code. These codes do not have a statutory status and are as such not enforced by governmental authorities, but consumers (and competitors) can file complaints with the Dutch Advertising Code Committee that can give declaratory rulings.

Should you have any questions or remarks, please do not hesitate to contact your Loyens & Loeff adviser, Victor van Ahee or Aleksandra Sanak.

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