The government said on Saturday that it required more time because of the cost of living issue to implement new laws prohibiting multi-buy deals on foods and drinks high in fat, salt, or sugar (HFSS). The ban on the promotions, which included “buy one, get one free,” “3 for 2,” and restrictions on free soft drink refills, was set to take effect in October. Anti-obesity activists were enraged by the delay. Higher-than-expected global oil and commodities prices have impacted economies around the world, partly due to the conflict in Ukraine, resulting in higher costs across supply chains that harm both businesses and consumers.
“This is incredibly disappointing and short-sighted, especially in light of the recent World Health Organization report showing that only in the United States is the level of obesity higher than in Europe,” said Professor Rachel Batterham, the RCP’s special adviser on obesity. The government said new rules banning HFSS adverts on television before 9 p.m. and paid-for adverts online would also be paused for a year, meaning they will not come into force until January 2024.
“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,” public health minister Maggie Throup said. Britain’s Royal College of Physicians criticised the delay.
This was blamed on a delay to the legislative process, as well as a “growing recognition that the industry needs more time to prepare”. However, new rules limiting the location of HFSS foods in stores will go ahead as planned in October. These will mean less healthy products can no longer be promoted in the most visible locations, such as checkouts, store entrances, aisle ends and their online equivalents.
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