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SENATORS’ STATEMENTS — Code for the Responsible Advertising of Food and Beverage Products

February 10, 2022

Honourable senators, I rise today to speak on the Code for the Responsible Advertising of Food and Beverage Products to Children, otherwise known as the Food and Beverage Advertising Code.

The Food and Beverage Advertising Code represents a commitment made by four leading industry associations on behalf of their members: the Association of Canadian Advertisers, Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada, Canadian Beverage Association and Restaurants Canada to govern the advertising of food and beverage products to children under the age of 13.

We know that this topic has long been discussed in both this chamber and in the other place in the past. I would like to take this time to thank my honourable colleagues, and specifically Senator Petitclerc, for all their hard work on this issue in the past. Although the regulations detailed in the former Bill S-228 were never adopted, as it didn’t receive Royal Assent before the 2019 federal election was called, I am proud of the work that industry has done since that time to continue to work on this important issue and make the recommendations a reality.

I would like to note also that a private member’s bill was tabled on this very matter just last night. I’m hopeful that industry has been, and will continue to be, consulted in that process because they have been working tirelessly on this important matter.

According to industry, the guidelines set out in their Food and Beverage Advertising Code exceed Health Canada’s initial recommendations from 2018. In fact, these are the same recommendations which were first introduced by our colleague former senator Nancy Greene Raine in 2016 to prohibit the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children.

Ultimately, the regime set out in the code will be enforced by Ad Standards with pre-clearances and will govern advertisers across Canada on all platforms. The Food and Beverage Advertising Code will also allow Health Canada to deliver on one of its top priorities under the healthy eating strategy.

Honourable colleagues, it is clear that children represent a special audience and that messages built around the consumption and choice of food and beverage products should be regulated. This code is a critical document in the industry that will help support the way in which food products are advertised to children going forward. I am hopeful that the Food and Beverage Advertising Code will stand as an example of the type of positive results that can come from collaboration between industry, government and stakeholders and further encourage these partnerships in the future.

Thank you, meegwetch.

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