The UK Government’s regulations – originally set to be enforced in October 2022 – certainly set the cat among the pigeons, summoning a raft of criticism from industry, consumer groups and the public.
It has also led to a court injunction from Kellogg Company for allegedly failing to enter into a ‘reasonable conversation’ to consider what the addition of milk or yoghurt would have on the nutritional value of a bowl of breakfast cereal.
Bowing under pressure, the Government has now announced it is postponing the regulations for a year – citing the cost of living crisis, as well as to give industry more time to prepare. Rules limiting the placement of so-called ‘unhealthy’ foods in shops will still go ahead as planned in October 2022.
“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,” said the Government in a statement.
The ‘pragmatic’ move was applauded by FDF Scotland in September 2021 and has again been applauded by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).
“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, including breakfast cereals, ready meals and yoghurts, as it risked further stretching already pressed household budgets,” said Kate Halliwell, FDF’s chief scientific officer.
“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.”
- Rules banning multibuy deals on HFSS foods and drinks, including ‘buy one get one free’ (BOGOF), ‘3 for 2’ and free refills for soft drinks.
“We have listened to the concerns which have been raised and will not be bringing in restrictions on junk food advertising until confident that the time is right,” said Media, Data and Digital Minister Julia Lopez.
“Shoppers will now be able to continue taking advantage of multibuy offers on all foods, including healthier foods which were not included in the original restrictions.”
- Restrictions banning HFSS adverts on TV before 9pm and paid-for adverts online will come into force in January 2024.
“This is due to a delay to the Health and Care Bill receiving Royal assent, as well as a growing recognition that the industry needs more time to prepare,” said the statement, noting that in the coming weeks, the Government will be launching a consultation on TV and paid-for-adverts online.
Still in play
- Rules limiting the placement of so-called ‘unhealthy’ foods in key locations instore – checkouts, entrances and aisle ends – and their online equivalents.
According to the Government, this is a key part of its commitment to reduce obesity.
“We’re committed to doing everything we can to help people live healthier lives,” said Public Health Minister Maggie Throup.
“Pausing restrictions on deals like buy one get one free will allow us to understand its impact on consumers in light of an unprecedented global economic situation.
Added Media, Data and Digital Minister Julia Lopez, “Addressing obesity remains a priority for government, and will reduce the strain put on the NHS as it works to tackle the covid backlogs.”
- Last month, laws on calorie labelling in large restaurants, cafes and takeaways came into force.
- An £550m investment of government and lottery cash to level up access to sport and physical activity for young people across the UK.
- The Better Health: Rewards scheme will be piloted in Wolverhampton later this year ‘to test whether financial incentives can support adults to move more and eat better’.
- The release of a Health Disparities White Paper later this year, ‘aiming to break the link between factors such as people’s social or economic circumstances and their prospect for a healthy life.’ This tackles the biggest preventable killers like obesity.
- £22bn earmarked in 2022-23 to support families with rising costs.
- National Insurance starting thresholds will rise to £12,570 from July 2022, ‘meaning people across the UK will keep more of what they earn before they start paying tax’.
- Households liable for Council Tax in Bands A-D in England will receive a £150 non-repayable Council Tax Rebate
- Local Authorities will receive extra discretionary funding to help those who are not eligible but still are in need.
Not everyone is in accord with the stay, with one UK health campaigner accusing Prime Minister Boris Johnson of ‘playing politics’ with children's health.