Poland’s Advertising Council amends Code of ethics to include advertising for food supplements

Available languages: PL

In May 2024, the Union of Associations Advertising Council (Advertising Council), an NGO involved in corporate responsibility in advertising, developed a comprehensive self-regulation on ethical advertising of food supplements, which is now part of the Code of Ethics for Advertising, a set of rules defining what is acceptable and what is unethical in advertising. The Code of Ethics for Advertising is to be followed by entrepreneurs, especially advertisers and other entities engaged in advertising activities in Poland.

Entities who advertise food supplements have so far relied on two sets of rules for this type of advertising – the Code of Good Practice for Advertising of Dietary Supplements, which is binding on its signatories, and the Broadcasters' Agreement on the Distribution of Dietary Supplement Advertisements, which concerns TV spots.

In addition to these documents, general rules related to advertising of food supplements can be found e.g. in the Act on Food and Nutrition Safety (ubżż), but there is no comprehensive regulation of food supplement advertising in Poland like there is for medicinal products or medical devices. An effort in 2023 to amend the ubżż[1] to include more detailed regulations on food supplement advertising was not completed (the draft is still at the public consultation stage).

The food supplement section of the newly amended Code of Ethics for Advertising presented by the Advertising Council includes rules for advertising directed at medical professionals and the rules for the use of labels in advertising (e.g. claims to confirm product quality and safety), very widely understood definition of advertising of supplement (including message made available on the Internet on a website or in social media), the ban on misleading advertising (including suggestions that a food supplement is a medicinal product, a medical device, a cosmetic product or another food category), and the ban on advertising supplements upon the first placement on the market when notifications have not been made in accordance with regulations (in Poland, the Chief Sanitary Inspector must be notified before a supplement can be placed on the market for the first time).

The Code of Ethics also includes the ban on attributing medicinal characteristics to the supplement, and the principles of child protection in the context of advertising.

In addition, the Code of Ethics for Advertising defines the contents that must be included in food supplement advertising (e.g. unambiguous information about the product category, the exact content, size, length of display and location of the warning following the model of the regulations for medicinal products and medical devices).

The Code also provides detailed guidelines for advertising in pharmacies, medical entities, general shops, conferences, training courses and other events. In addition, one chapter is devoted to online advertising of food supplements, including advertising by influencers, which must be conducted in a manner consistent with the Recommendations of the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection on the labelling of advertising content by influencers in social media.

The Code of Ethics for Advertising does not apply to every entity conducting advertising. The Code does not set out norms replacing the mandatory provisions of the law, but only contains a set of principles imposing additional restrictions on entities covered by it, regardless of the provisions of the law in force.

The obligation to apply the Code applies first and foremost on the Code's signatories, but the Code also sets the general ethical framework for advertising, and the good practices indicated therein may also be followed by entrepreneurs who are not signatories but seek to advertise food supplements in line with the above recommendations.


[1] Draft Act of December 23, 2022 amending the Act on Food and Nutrition Safety (List number: UD 433)