The government has delayed plans to crack down on unhealthy food promotions for a year.
Promotions such as “buy one, get one free” (Bogof) offers and additional free offers on products high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) would have been banned under the new measures, as part of the broader obesity strategy in October. .
Instead, promotions will be banned in October 2023.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the new measures would have coincided with rising energy and property prices.
The ban on HFSS commercials on television before 9 p.m. and online paid advertising are also delayed for a year and will come into effect in January 2024, due to a delay in the royal ascension of the Health and Care Bill and the fact that the industry has need more time to prepare, the government said.
He also said a consultation on paid television and online advertising would be launched in the coming weeks.
Health campaigners were appalled by the news, with one accusing Prime Minister Boris Johnson of “playing politics” with children’s health.
Government should not ‘delay and procrastinate’
However, Public Health Minister Maggie Throup said: “We are committed to doing everything we can to help people live healthier lives.
“Suspending restrictions on offers such as buy one, get one free will allow us to understand its impact on consumers in light of an unprecedented global economic situation.”
But Barbara Crowther, of the Children’s Food Campaign, said the government should not “delay and procrastinate”, but should act faster on the Bogof agreements.
“Obesity is skyrocketing and millions of families cannot afford proper nutrition. Multi-buy offers encourage people to spend more on junk food and less on healthy food,” he said. she declared.
“This delay threatens the UK’s target to halve childhood obesity by 2030. Boris is playing politics with the health of our children.”
Shadow Public Health Minister Andrew Gwynne said: “Boris Johnson’s desperation to cling to his job means the ideology of Tory MPs is being placed above children’s health.
“Instead of reducing childhood obesity, preventing health problems and easing pressure on the NHS, this chaotic government is making another U-turn.”
Delaying restrictions ‘makes sense’
However, the “pragmatism” of the government’s action has been praised by industry body the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).
Kate Halliwell, Scientific Director of the FDF, said: “At a time when families and our manufacturers are struggling with high inflation, it makes sense to delay restrictions on volume promotions for everyone’s food and drink products. days, including breakfast cereals, ready meals and yogurts, as this risked further straining already strained household budgets.
“We also welcome the postponement of the start of advertising restrictions, given the time it will take for our industry to prepare for the change in law.”
Restrictions on the placement of less healthy products in key locations such as checkouts, store entrances and aisle ends and their online equivalents will still come into effect in October.
The government has said tackling obesity remains a priority as it will reduce pressure on the NHS as it struggles to tackle the COVID backlog.
Last month the government introduced calorie labeling in large restaurants, cafes and takeaways.
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