Fast food chain Hungry Jacks has come under fire for admitting that it screened ads showing high fat food for children, breaching advertising’s voluntary code of practice.

The breach has also brought into question the usefulness of the industry’s code, with critics citing the Hungry Jacks incident as proof that a self-regulated system will be abused.

The chain’s marketing director Jim Wilson indicated that it knew that it was breaking the code, to which it is a primary signatory, because it “had commitments we had to meet contractually”.

Of those most red faced over the incident is the Australian Association of National Advertisers, which has been resisting attempts for an government body to oversee advertising regulation and is itself supposed to act as the regulator.

“I have sought and received assurance that Hungry Jacks is committed to the Quick Service Restaurants initiative. I am confident they will meet their obligations going forward,” said AANA chief executive Scott McClellan.

According to a report in The Australian the chain had a contract with the US-based licensor of The Simpsons that specified how and when the childrens meal promotion was to be advertised.