Poland: new code for children’s ads

11 October 2010

Olga Lesniewska, Emilia Stepien

The Polish Federation of the Food Industry Employers Union introduced a self-regulatory scheme: the Code Governing Food Advertisement Addressed to Children (the Code”). The Code is based on the EU Pledge, the European initiative by leading food and beverage producers accounting for almost 60% of the EU food advertising market.

General provisions

General provisions of the Code match EU Pledge. The Code prohibits advertising food, except for foodstuffs which fulfill specific nutrition criteria based on accepted scientific evidence and/or applicable national and international dietary guidelines, whenever at least 50% of the target audience is children under 12 years old. EU Pledge companies developed their own nutritional guidelines on the basis of the most widely accepted national and international guidelines that exist (e.g. WHO, FAO, USDA, IOM, EURODIET).

The Code bans foodstuffs advertisements in primary schools, except for educational campaigns which promote healthy lifestyle and physical activity among children.

In practice, the self-regulation aims at eliminating food advertisements from children’s TV channels, children’s magazines and websites aimed at children.

Forbidden content

The Code also covers specific rules on the content of ads directed to children. The ads cannot promote an unhealthy lifestyle - especially by fostering a sedentary way of life. It is forbidden to directly encourage children to buy a product, by using phrases like: “you’ve got to have it”, “buy now” or encourage children to force parents to buy the product. Food products cannot be presented as essential for gaining social acceptance.


The Code in Poland was signed by leading food producers - Coca Cola, Danone, Mars, Frito Lay, Kraft Foods, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Ferrero, Unilever, Żywiec Zdrój SA.

The Code is voluntary and open for other food producers. Despite the self-regulatory character of the Code, the Code is binding for the producers who joined and consequences of breaching these obligations may be serious. The Polish Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (Polish Competition Authority) on its own initiative or upon a consumer organisation’s request may commence administrative proceedings against a non-complying signatory for unfair commercial practices that may lead to a fine of up to 10% of the turnover of the food producer.

The EU Pledge organisation has published two monitoring reports (2009 and 2010) which showed that almost all (99.8%) signatories comply with their commitments.  Reports show that advertising for products that do not meet companies’ nutritional criteria in Poland fell by 62% in spots with a reported profile exceeding 50% of children under 12 and a 51% decrease across all programming.