UK delays HFSS regulations amid rising cost-of-living

UK—The UK Government has announced it will delay some regulations on foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) for one year to allow it to review the effect the policies will have on the cost-of-living crisis.

A ban on in store volume deals for HFSS foods, including buy one get one free and three for 2 offers, will now come into force in October 2023.

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Additionally, the ban on advertising junk food before 9pm on television as well as online will now start in January 2024.

Economies across the world have been affected by higher-than-expected global energy and goods prices, leading to increased costs across supply chains.

The delay to restrictions on multibuy deals will allow the government to review and monitor the impact of the restrictions on the cost of living in light of an unprecedented global economic situation.

However, the delay has come under criticism with people questioning the impact 12 more months without these regulations could have on the UK’s obesity crisis.

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“I am concerned that it will blow a hole in the obesity strategy. That has a massive follow-on effect on all of our health targets,” former health minister Lord Bethell told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“More people are getting cancer due to obesity-related effects. So, the cancer 10-year plan, the extra five years of longevity and many more of our health targets are damaged by this.

“All of this illness that is caused by [being] overweight from junk food is being carried by the NHS and by the taxpayer.”

However, the Government’s move was supported by UK food industry body The Food and Drink Federation. Chief scientific officer Kate Halliwell said: “We welcome the UK government’s pragmatism during the cost-of-living crisis.

At a time when both families and our manufacturers are struggling with high inflation, it makes sense to delay the restrictions on volume promotions for everyday food and drink products.

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“We also welcome the delay to the start of advertising restrictions, given the time it will take our industry to prepare for the change in law.”

Restrictions on the placement of HFFS promotions will still come into force in October 2022 as planned. This will mean less healthy products are no longer promoted in key locations, such as checkouts, store entrances, aisle ends and their online equivalents.

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