Self-regulation of the food industry in Australia has been working, according to a new review entitled Responsible advertising to children: An independent review of the Australian food and beverage industry self-regulatory codes.

The review, conducted by Susannah Tymms, a researcher specialising in regulatory reform, found that industry self-regulating initiatives have been doing well in ‘removing virtually all non-core food advertising that is primarily directed at children’.

Such initiatives include the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative (RCMI) – an initiative developed by the Australian Food and Beverage Industry which requires voluntary signatories of the initiative to abide by a set of core principles that govern how they advertise during designated children’s programming.

The review also found that ‘non-core food advertising during children’s programming slots represents just 0.7 per cent of all food and beverage advertising’.

“Signatories [of the self-regulatory codes] are motivated by acknowledged responsibility for shifting marketing principles towards proactive encouragement of a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet, particularly in relation to children,” Tymms said.

She added that the review also found that a majority of the signatories have noted the significant impact that the signing of the self-regulatory codes has on their businesses.
“As a result of changing community expectations in Australia and globally, signing the codes is an investment in company reputation and brand,” she said.

Gary Dawson, chief executive of the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) said that the council is pleased to see that self-regulation have resulted in major changes in the signatories’ marketing principles and business strategies.

He added: “The AFGC supports ongoing independent monitoring of advertising to children, and is working with the Australian National Preventative Health Agency to develop a framework for monitoring the initiatives, ensuring the integrity and transparency of industry led initiatives to uphold responsible marketing practices.”