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In a national first, new voluntary Codes of Practice for the advertising and marketing of food and non-alcoholic drinks have today (Wednesday) been launched, with the aim of ensuring responsible marketing of foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

In particular the codes focus on not exposing children to inappropriate marketing, advertising or sponsorship that is associated with these kinds of food and drink products, and actively promoting healthier food choices.

Minister of State for Health Promotion, Catherine Byrne TD, welcomed the development of these codes by a multi-stakeholder group, involving representatives from the food industry, advertising sector, statutory agencies and various Departments of State. 

The Minister stated: “These Codes of Practice represent an opportunity to discourage unhealthy food consumption choices and patterns which can contribute to ill health, overweight and obesity, and chronic disease.  They also, importantly, acknowledge the role the food and retail sectors have in actively promoting healthy eating, such as people eating more fruit and veg”. 

Adding to this, the Minister for Health Simon Harris said:  “Healthy Eating is a key theme of our Healthy Ireland 2018 campaign, which is encouraging people to make simple changes to improve their health. These include drinking more water, eating more fruit and veg, and limiting their intake of foods high in fat, sugar and salt. It is important for our health, both in the short and longer term, that we all start to make these changes, if we are to achieve a healthier Ireland. So I welcome and acknowledge the good start we are making here today with this new agreement and commitment, and I commend the food and retail sectors for signing up to these Codes”.  

The Codes of Practice are the culmination of 15 months of cooperation and collaboration with the various sectors including IBEC, Food Drink Ireland, Retail Ireland, Irish Beverage Council, Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland, Association of Advertisers in Ireland, Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland, Food Safety Authority of Ireland, safefood, HSE, Department of Food, Agriculture and the Marine and Department of Children and Youth Affairs.  Professor Alan Reilly, former CEO of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, chaired the group. All stakeholders have agreed to the codes.  

They have also agreed to support any other organisation, agency or service operator that wishes to accept and honour this agreement.

This marks Ireland’s first ever agreement in relation to food advertising, marketing and sponsorship in the non-broadcast media and the first time that agencies have agreed to use a model for adults that determines the composition of nutrients in food (a Nutrient Profiling Model ) for the classification of food High in Fat, Sugar and Salt (HFSS).

The different agencies have agreed variable rates of reduction in advertising, marketing and sponsorship of HFSS, which is hoped will result in a significant reduction of exposure of children and adults to HFSS in a variety of settings including out of home, print media, cinemas, and the education sector, while Retail Ireland has agreed to increase its promotion (via product placement and in store promotions) of healthier food and drink options.