Advertising Standards Canada releases 2011 Compliance Report on Canadian Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative

TORONTO, Sept. 19, 2012 /CNW/ - Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) today released its fourth annual Compliance Report on the Canadian Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CAI), covering 2011. The Report shows that the companies participating in the CAI have demonstrated excellent compliance in meeting their program commitments.

"Since the program's inception in 2007, participating companies have made complying with their commitments a high corporate priority, and this is reflected in the outstanding record of compliance that they have achieved," stated Linda J. Nagel, President and CEO of ASC.

The Canadian Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CAI)

Program Background
The CAI was launched by Canada's food and beverage industry in April 2007. It was developed to shift the landscape of advertising primarily directed to children under 12 years of age to the promotion of better-for-you products. The CAI complements the existing rigorous Canadian framework for regulating advertising to children. This is the fourth annual Report by ASC, the CAI administrator, on the progress made last year by the companies participating in the CAI to meet their program commitments.

Under the CAI, leading Canadian food and beverage advertisers have committed to either not direct advertising primarily to children under the age of 12, or to shift their advertising to products that are consistent with the principles of sound nutrition guidance. The CAI requires that a Participant's nutrition criteria meet at least one of the following:

  • foods that reflect the dietary guidelines of Canada's Food Guide;
  • foods that meet criteria for disease risk reduction claims, function claims and nutrient function claims as per the CFIA Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising;
  • foods that meet the criteria for nutrient content claims as per the CFIA Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising; or
  • foods that meet the standards for participating in the Heart & Stroke Foundation's Health Check TM program.

Participants have also committed to:

  • incorporate only products that meet the CAI nutrition criteria in interactive games primarily directed to children under 12 years of age;
  • reduce the use of third party licensed characters in advertising directed primarily to children under 12 for products that do not meet the CAI criteria;
  • not pay for or actively seek to place food and beverage products in program/editorial content of any medium primarily directed to children; and
  • not advertise food or beverage products in elementary schools - pre-kindergarten through Grade 6.

The 2011 Report evaluates compliance with their commitments by the following companies: Burger King Restaurants of Canada, Inc.; Campbell Company of Canada; Coca-Cola Ltd.; Ferrero Canada Ltd.; General Mills Canada Corporation; Hershey Canada Inc.; Janes Family Foods Ltd.; Kellogg Canada Inc.; Kraft Canada Inc.; Mars Canada Inc.; McCain Foods (Canada); McDonald's Restaurants of Canada Limited; Nestlé Canada Inc.; Parmalat Canada; PepsiCo Canada ULC; Post Foods Canada Corp., Unilever Canada Inc. and Weston Bakeries Limited. (Danone Inc., which joined the CAI in 2011, was not reviewed for this Report.)

Program Scope
The program covers advertising on television, radio, in print and on the Internet, as well as on:

  • video and computer games rated "Early Childhood" or "EC," which are inherently primarily directed to children under 12, and other games that are age-graded on the label and packaging as being primarily directed to children under 12 ,
  • DVDs of movies that are rated "G" whose content is primarily directed to children under 12, and other DVDs whose content is primarily directed to children under 12,
  • mobile media such as cell phones, PDAs and through word of mouth where advertising on those media is primarily directed to children under 12.

The Changing Landscape

Since the launch of the CAI, the nutritional profile and the array of products advertised to children under 12 has continued to change as participants reformulated many products and adjusted the range of products they advertise directly to children.

Some participants ceased child-directed advertising altogether, while others launched new better-for-you entries. Improvements have also been made in many product categories, both through the reduction of ingredients including trans fat, sodium, and sugar, and through the addition of positive nutrients including fibre, whole grains, vitamins and minerals.

Today, no product in the program is more than 200 calories and every meal is less than 600 calories.

2011 ASC Spot Check
A 2011 spot check of television advertising conducted by ASC on children's programming during a ten-day period, shows that food and beverage commercials represent 26% of the total number of advertisements aired. 92% of the food and beverage commercials aired during this period were for products covered under the CAI − up from 80% in 2010.

In addition, all quick service restaurant meals advertised during the period included more than 1/2 a serving of fruit. Appendix 1 of the 2011 Compliance Report lists the products advertised by Participants.

CAI Compliance

Transparency and public accountability are key components of the CAI. As program administrator, ASC provides independent oversight to the CAI by:

  • approving and publishing the participants' commitments;
  • auditing participants' compliance; and
  • issuing annual compliance reports

ASC evaluates participants' compliance through audit activities, monitoring, and stringent reporting requirements.

Advertising Standards Canada 

Founded in 1957, ASC is the national independent advertising industry self-regulatory body committed to creating and maintaining community confidence in advertising. ASC members - leading advertisers, advertising agencies, media and suppliers to the advertising industry - are committed to supporting responsible and effective advertising self-regulation. A not-for-profit organization, ASC administers the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards, the principal instrument of advertising self-regulation in Canada, and a national mechanism for accepting and responding to consumers' complaints about advertising. Complaints are adjudicated by independent volunteer councils, comprising senior industry and public representatives. ASC reports to the community on upheld complaints through its online Ad Complaints Reports. Through ASC Clearance Services, ASC provides advertising copy review in five regulated categories to ensure compliance with specific laws, regulations, codes and guidelines.

The 2011 CAI Compliance Report and information about the CAI are available at: www.adstandards.com/childrensinitiative.

SOURCE: Advertising Standards Canada

For further information:

David Rodier
Hill & Knowlton Canada
Tel: 613-786-9945
david.rodier@hillandknowlton.ca

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