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To assist in the worldwide efforts to foster improved diet and health and curb childhood obesity, the International Chamber of Commerce has issued a new global framework that promotes high ethical standards for marketing food and beverages.

The new Framework for Responsible Food and Beverage Marketing Communications is an annex to ICC’s Advertising and Marketing Code, which was recently consolidated into a single set of global precepts to guide marketers, advertising agencies and the media in the current fast-evolving environment. The Code includes new sections on electronic media, the telephone and green advertising claims, plus an expanded section on advertising to children.

“The Framework represents a major step forward for the food and beverage industries. It provides important guidance for self-regulatory organizations (SROs), which play a leading role in industry oversight when tailoring these global standards to local customs,” said Gérard Noel, Vice President of the French Advertisers Association and Chair of the task force which crafted the Framework. “It is part of a redoubled effort by the food and beverage industries to redesign campaigns giving consumers more information on diet, nutrition and exercise so they can make well-informed choices.”

ICC will champion the Framework in meetings with government officials and international organizations. It will also be used to inform recent initiatives to address childhood obesity, including those launched by the European Union Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health; and by the US government, which issued a report last May recommending marketing strategies to help reverse the trend.

The Framework represents the food and beverage industries’ willingness to work with governments in their various efforts to improve the health and welfare of children.

ICC’s Advertising and Marketing Code outlines a series of global principles that contain both best practices and restrictions for marketing communications directed at children, including: campaigns must not exploit the inexperience of children, undermine the authority of parents or appeal to children to persuade their parents.

The Framework contains a series of “guideposts” for food and beverage marketers, such as:

  • Marketing communications must not encourage excess consumption;
  • Portion sizes must suit the occasion;
  • Health and nutrition claims must be backed by sound science;
  • Foods not intended as meal substitutes should not be presented as such;
  • Food and drink promotions must not undermine the importance of a healthy lifestyle;
  • Using fantasy and animation to market to children are acceptable, but must not mislead them about nutritional benefits;
  • Marketing should not lead a child to believe a product will make him or her more popular, smarter or more successful in school or in sports;
  • Sales promotions must present the conditions of a premium offer or contest in language a child can understand, spelling out the products that must be purchased to receive the offer, the terms of entry, the prizes and the chances of winning.

The International Chamber of Commerce promotes high ethical standards for business through its development and diffusion of rules, codes and guidelines. ICC created its first Advertising and Marketing Code in 1937.