Chile’s New Advertising Restrictions Just the Tip of the Iceberg

July 8, 2016

Food advertising issues are heating up again nationally and internationally. Recently, the government of Chile began implementation of restrictions on food and beverage advertising directed to children under the age of 14, new nutrition labelling measures, and a ban on the sales and advertising of ‘unhealthy’ food in schools. These restrictions require food and beverage products that are high in sodium, sugar, or saturated fat to carry large, black labels on packaging identifying the product is “high in…,” with a label required for each nutrient limit exceeded. These products are also prohibited from being advertised on television during hours where children under 14 are likely to be in the audience, or to include promotions involving toys and other items designed to attract children’s attention. Smaller food and beverage companies have 36 months to adapt to the new labelling regulation, which notably entails the modification of 8,000 packages.

According to a representative from the World Health Organization (WHO), "This will be the most demanding law in the world as it follows a series of recommendations by the World Health Organization regarding the quantity of certain substances." This law is part of a trend in Latin America to place significant restrictions on certain food and beverage products and advertising, especially those directed to children. Chile’s latest action follows similar measures adopted in Mexico, Ecuador, and Colombia, as well as many countries in Asia and Europe.

Restrictive efforts in regard to food advertising are increasing across the U.S. as well. These efforts include the recent activation of GMO marketing and advertising restrictions in Vermont and efforts to require onerous and inappropriate government mandatory disclosures in presweetened drink advertising in San Francisco and Baltimore. As we have explained in previous posts to this blog, the types of mandates proposed violate the First Amendment and attempt to seize substantial space on advertisements to carry a compelled government message. ANA has filed a “friend of the court” brief in a lawsuit challenging the San Francisco regulations, and we are lobbying against the Baltimore proposal.

We do not expect food advertising issues to diminish in the coming months. The ordinance in San Francisco and the proposed regulation in Baltimore, if not overturned or blocked, will set broad precedents for the more than 30,000 local governments across the country which could try to impose similar measures to restrict advertising. ANA will continue to vigorously combat these proposals as they develop and advocate for the full protection of advertisers’ constitutional rights.

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