14th May 2021 By Staff Reporter | firstname.lastname@example.org | @foodtickernz
The UK government plans to ban online adverts of unhealthy food and restrict advertising on TV until after 9pm.
The new measures announced this week as part of the Queen’s Speech, which outlines the government’s legislative agenda, aimed to restrict promotions on food and drink products high in fat, sugar and salt.
The Health and Care bill would also ban the advertising of discount deals for unhealthy foods, restrict retailer promotions, strengthen food labelling, and require large restaurant operators to put calorie counts on menus.
The changes, which would come into force in April 2022, are aimed at tackling an obesity ‘time bomb’ with two-thirds of adults in England now considered overweight or obese.
However, the proposals have been criticised by the British food industry as counterproductive and a deterrent to businesses reformulating products with less sugar, salt and fat.
“A proposed advertising ban would remove less than five calories a day from children’s diets, according to the government’s own estimates,” said Kate Halliwell, chief scientific officer at industry body The Food and Drink Federation.
“And yet the proposals limit the scope for advertising products that have been carefully reformulated or created in smaller portions in line with the government’s own targets. For example, Cadbury’s would not be able to advertise their 30% reduced sugar Dairy Milk.”
Halliwell said the bans would be “tying businesses’ hands” by limiting how healthier options could be successfully brought to market.
The measures have been welcomed by food health groups, who hailed them as vital in battling obesity.
“Whilst bringing in these landmark obesity policies will make the UK world-leading, it’s absolutely crucial that we not only prevent obesity, but also treat those who are overweight. This must include product reformulation,” said Professor Graham MacGregor, chair of Action on Sugar and Action on Salt.
“With figures published last year suggesting that nearly two-thirds of adults in England are either overweight or living with obesity (and obesity linked to the worst outcomes of Covid-19), the food and drink industry, including the hospitality sector, must not dither or delay any longer and create a level playing field.”
More details of which specific food and drinks would be caught by the ban are expected later this year.
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