Core Principles

All participants follow the CFBAI’s Core Principles (or “Core Commitments”), which set requirements regarding food advertising to children under age 12. The Core Principles encompass an advertising commitment and an elementary school commitment. CFBAI monitors and reports on participants’ compliance with these commitments in annual reports.

The Advertising Commitment

Participants agree to depict only foods that meet CFBAI’s Uniform Nutrition Criteria in advertising primarily directed to children under age 12. Some participants commit to not advertise foods to this age group at all. 


In 2020 CFBAI strengthened its Core Principles by adopting a stricter minimum threshold for the definition of “child-directed” advertising. Effective January 1, 2021, participants must treat programming with an audience of 30% or more children as “child-directed,” a more rigorous standard than the previous 35% minimum threshold. Some companies use a 25% threshold.  


The newly revised Principles also reflect the significant changes in children’s media consumption habits within an evolving media landscape. The Core Principles now also specifically cover advertising on open-access platforms with child-directed content, such as YouTube, and require that child-directed influencer communications promote only foods that meet CFBAI’s Nutrition Criteria.   


CFBAI Core Principles cover the following child-directed media:   

  • TV                               

  • Radio                            

  • Print                            

  • Internet/digital media, including websites, video and computer games, open-access platforms that have child-directed content like YouTube, mobile apps or mobile media 

  • Influencer communications 

  • Product placements and product integrations   

  • Licensed characters, celebrities, and movie tie-ins in covered media

  • Word of mouth 


The Elementary School Commitment 

Participants commit to not advertise their foods to children in elementary schools, even foods that meet CFBAI’s nutrition criteria. This commitment applies to the entire school and its facilities and grounds and covers the entire school day whenever children are under the supervision of the school or third parties on behalf of the school. This commitment does not apply to the display of foods or beverages that are for sale, communications with adults, charitable fundraising support or sponsorship, or curricular or public service materials.