Spanish Congress adopts restrictions on food advertising to children


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On 16 June, the Spanish Congress adopted a Law on Food Safety and Nutrition (see the Press release in Spanish). This Law aims to regulate food safety and certain aspects of food advertising, and seeks, in particular, to protect children and to curb obesity.

The Law mandates competent authorities to promote co-regulatory agreements with the food and beverage industry and with audiovisual media service providers to establish codes of conduct on food and beverage advertising to children under 15 years old. Given that Spain already has such a code of conduct in place (the PAOS Code) for food advertising to children under the age of 12, it is likely that the effect of the new law will be to extend the scope of the PAOS Code to cover children aged 14 and under.

Should stakeholders fail to adopt a code of conduct within a year, the Government will submit proposals to regulate food and beverage advertising.

Extending the application of food advertising self-regulation to children under 15 years old raises a series of questions regarding the future of the industry's EU Pledge, whereby signatories voluntarily restrict their advertising to children under 12 years old across Europe. However, following intensive negotiations and repeated calls for outright bans by several parties, this was found to be the most acceptable compromise.

According to the preamble, co-regulation was favoured over regulation upon a recommendation by the Council of European Union and the European Parliament to carefully analyse the merits of co-regulation and self-regulation when they are likely to be more adequate than regulatory instruments. “Experience has proven”, the preamble reads, “that both coregulatory and self-regulatory instruments (...) grant a high level of protection to consumers”.

The Law also stipulates that schools and pre-schools should be “free from advertising”. Sponsorship of sport activities or equipment and nutritional education campaigns funded by advertisers must be authorized beforehand by the competent education authority, in accordance with standards set to promote healthy habits and prevent obesity.

Several amendments adopted by the Senate last week on the above-mentioned provisions were rejected today by the Congress.

For more information please contact Will Gilroy.

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