Heinz Forced to Take Advert Off The Air Amid Health And Safety Row

Watchdogs have banned a TV commercial for Heinz Baked Beans on health and safety grounds.

The advert showed youngsters and adults tapping out the complex rhythms of a song on empty cans.


Heinz fell foul of the Advertising Standards Authority because it failed to show the top of the can being taped up to cover any sharp edges.

As a result there was a danger that children could cut their fingers if they tried to copy the ad without adult supervision, it claimed.

The decision may infuriate those who feel modern children are being wrapped in cotton wool and not allowed to play, take responsibility or learn to become independent.

Bosses at Heinz were also surprised, saying the ad ā€“ which is no longer running ā€“ ‘did not pose any safety risk’ because it showed people tapping the can only on the sides or the sealed top and bottom.

Even the chairman of the Health and Safety Executive criticised the ASA ruling, saying there were no rules ‘preventing children from playing with empty sealed tin cans’.

The ASA received nine complaints that the ad encouraged unsafe practice or featured ‘behaviour that could be dangerous for children to emulate’.


The commercial showed children, teens and adults tapping out a series of rhythms and singing along to the ‘Can Song’.

Historically, handling an empty can might have been a problem because the lids were removed with a tin opener leaving jagged edges. This is less of a problem with the ring pulls on cans today.

In its defence, Heinz said the ad did not depict anyone putting their hand or fingers inside a can. And the Clearcast organisation, which vets commercials on behalf of the industry before they are aired, said in its view ‘the behaviour did not look dangerous or harmful’.

But the ASA disagreed in a ruling published today, saying the ad ‘condoned and encouraged behaviour that prejudiced health or safety’.

It said the cans were shown being flipped and twirled while being tapped and there was a risk of ‘a hand or fingers being inserted into an open tin (with the associated risk of cuts)’. It added: ‘In addition, the ad itself did not include any references that instructed consumers to ensure a tin can was made safe.’

But Martin Temple, chairman of the Health and Safety Executive, said: ‘We would hope the public realise there are absolutely no regulations preventing children from playing with empty sealed tin cans.

‘If a child is playing with a jagged edge on a tin container there is a risk of injury, but we would hope parents manage that risk.’

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