The government is seeking views on its plans to restrict promotions of food and drink products high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) by location and by price.
According to government research regular overconsumption of a relatively small number of calories leads to individuals becoming overweight or obese, and that promotions are effective at influencing food preferences and purchases. Price promotions increase the amount of food and drink people buy by around 20%.
The government has stated that its aim is to reduce excessive
eating and drinking of HFSS products that can lead to children becoming overweight and obese, by forcing businesses to promote healthier food and drink, to help people make healthier choices, with the introduction of legislation to restrict promotions of products high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS) by location and by price in retailers that sell food and drink.
UKHospitality has said the industry needs support, not further regulation from government, as it faces the uncertainty of Brexit.
Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “It is staggering that government has launched this consultation now, while the food industry is trying to manage planning for a no-deal Brexit. It also jars with recent comments from the health secretary stating now is the time to stop legislating to deal with the excesses of the few, and to rein back the nanny state.
“We support efforts to promote healthier eating habits and the sector continues to take decisive, proactive action in a range of areas. Price promotions in the out-of-home sector are designed to provide good value to hard-pressed consumers, which our members do on a daily basis, allowing people the opportunity to treat themselves when dining out.
“Year-on-year food inflation has climbed to over 6%, so this latest proposal is clearly unhelpful and, with more uncertainty in food supply on the horizon because of Brexit, means the sector faces challenging times ahead. Hospitality businesses need a supportive operating environment, not nanny state measures that will restrict choice and lead to higher prices for consumers.”
Tim Rycroft, Food Drink Federation Chief Operating Officer, said:
“Announcing this consultation today is grossly insensitive and a monumental distraction when so many food businesses are facing into the abyss of a no-deal Brexit. It looks like the Department of Health and Social Care is out of touch with economic realities and with the rest of Government, whose sole focus now is preventing the catastrophe of no-deal. This consultation – already late – should have waited until the uncertainty we face is resolved.
“What’s more, this proposed plan is both wrong-headed and muddled. A promotions ban would make shopping more expensive and reduce choice.
“For more than ten years the food and drink industry has risen to the UK’s significant obesity challenge. Favourite products have been reformulated to reduce sugar, calories, fat and salt. Portion sizes have been limited. Some of these principals have now been adopted as part of Public Health England’s own reformulation programmes.
“Preventing companies from promoting these reformulated, healthier options to consumers would be mad; but that’s what the Government wants to do. This is a bizarre and contradictory public health policy.”