Government Delays Restrictions on HFSS Foods

National Food Strategy

The Government has announced that the restrictions on multibuy deals and advertising foods high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) will be delayed for a year.

The restrictions were set to ban multibuy deals, such as buy one get one free, ‘3 for 2’ and free soft drink refills, of HFSS foods and drinks and are a key part of the Government’s commitment to reduce obesity in the population. The restrictions have been delayed due to the current global economic situation and the cost-of-living crisis. The increase in energy and goods prices has affected economies around the world and led to increased costs across the supply chain, impacting both businesses and consumers. The delay to restrictions in multibuy deals will allow the Government to review and monitor the impact of the restrictions on the cost-of-living.

Businesses with less than 250 employees will continue to be exempt from any future HFSS restrictions due to the Government’s desire to avoid disproportionate limitations. Furthermore, fears that restrictions will render small businesses unable to compete with larger brands that can use their brand recognition and resources to mitigate the effects of the restrictions, have further highlighted the necessity for exemptions for smaller businesses.

Public Health Minister, Maggie Throup stated that pausing these restrictions will better allow the Government to understand its potential impact on the consumer, which is essential given the current, unprecedented global economic situation. She reiterated that the Government remains committed to doing everything they can to help people live healthier lives, reduce the strain on the NHS and to tackle the COVID-19 backlog.

The planned restrictions to ban advertisements for HFSS foods on TV before 9pm and as paid-for adverts online, will also be delayed and are expected to come into effect in January 2024. This delay is due to the Health and Care Bill not yet receiving Royal Assent, as well as the growing recognition that the industry needs more time to prepare for the restrictions.

Restrictions on the placement of less healthy products will still come into force, as planned, in October 2022. This will prohibit the promotion of less healthy products in key store locations such as checkouts, store entrances, aisle ends and their online alternatives.

You can read about the planned restrictions here and their delay here. Stay up to date with Government updates here.

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