by | March 30, 2007 | Uncategorized

Junk food: Evolution of the legislation in European countries

More and more countries in Europe are adopting legislation on the availability or advertising of unhealthy food. This article will be updated regularly on the progress of European countries on the matter.
If you believe there have been new developments, do not hesitate communicating it to Silvia Marcos Simon.


In 2005, vending maching selling soft drinks and chocolate bars were banned from schools in France.

Since the beginning of March 2007, advertisements for unhealthy food and beverages in France must carry health messages. Advertisers who ignore the new legislation and do not run the message, will have to pay a fine of 1.5 percent of the cost of the advertisement.

This applies to newspapers, television, radio, magasine and online advertisements. However, some health and consumer organisations believe that this will not be particularly effective and consumers will ignore the messages.


Last year, Ireland imposed a ban on TV adverts for sweets and fast food, as well as prohibiting the use of celebrities and sports stars to promote junk food to children.


In 2006, Latvia became the first EU country to completely ban the sale of junk foods in schools and nurseries. The ban includes the sale of food and drinks containing artificial colouring agents, sweeteners, preservatives, amino-acids, and caffeine is forbidden in all Latvian state schools and kindergardens.

As part of the program, the ministry will also promote healthy foods such as milk, juice and fruits.

Sweden, Norway

25 years ago Sweden, the only EU member with a total ban on advertising for children, banned the advertising of junk food aimed at children under 12. Norway has a similar regime.

United Kingdom

School measures

In 2005, vending maching selling soft drinks, crisps and chocolate bars were band from schools in the UK. A year later, confectionery, crisps and fizzy drinks were banned from being included in school lunches. The standards established were:

-No confectionery should be sold in schools

-No bagged savoury snacks other than nuts and seeds – and these must be without added sugar or salt

-A variety of fresh fruit and vegetables should be available

-All children should have access to free, fresh, chilled water at all times, and this should not be in the toilet block.

-The only other drinks available should be bottled water, low fat milk, pure fruit juices, yoghurt and milk drinks with less than 5% sugar, or drinks made from these such as smoothies, tea or coffee. Artificial sweeteners will be allowed but only in these types of drinks.

Media measures

From April 2007, “junk food” adverts will not be allowed during or close to programmes that target children, or those with a higher than normal proportion of viewers aged between 4-9. From January 2008, this will be extended to cover programmes that target children up to 15.

The UK is also planning to ban junk food companies from advertising in magazines aimed at the under-16s.

On the 3rd May 2007, ten UK organisations sent a letter to the UK Government urging it to step in to protect children from irresponsible food marketing trics

EPHA articles on obesity:

Call for urgent action on obesity in the UK

Childhood Obesity – what can the EU do?

Watching TV increases the risk of obesity

The Revised “Television Without Frontiers” Directive – the public health concerns

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