In 'Childhood Obesity: a plan for action, chapter 2', published in June 2018, the government announced its intention to ban promotions of products high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) by location and price through legislation and consult on how this policy should be implemented. The consultation ran from 12 January to 6 April 2019 and received 807 responses from individuals, businesses, and organisations. Around 60% of respondents were in favour of the government's proposal to restrict HFSS promotions.
Following consultation, the government announced in Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives, published in July 2020, that it has decided to introduce legislation to restrict promotions of HFSS products by location and price in retailers that sell food and drink in-store and online in England. The government intends to lay legislation by mid-2021. We will shortly be consulting further with Local authorities and business representatives on how the policy should be enforced.
How should the restrictions be enforced?
The consultation asked for views on the enforcement of the proposed restrictions but did not make specific proposals about how the policy should be enforced. Looking specifically at feedback from businesses, the most common responses were that:
Having considered the above feedback and further industry engagement, government are proposing the below high-level principles for the enforcement of this policy:
The government is committed to ensuring enforcement of regulatory policies is proportionate and fair and avoids unnecessary criminal offences, by making greater use of civil sanctions, especially for minor breaches. We will therefore consult shortly on our proposed enforcement approach. If you wish to be involved in this consultation, please see the consultation document on the GOV.UK webpage by 22 February 2021. We will use this opportunity to test our proposal with local authorities, businesses, trade associations and other stakeholders who will be affected by the restrictions to ensure an appropriate enforcement regime is in place.
Outcome and next steps
Government has carefully considered all of the consultation responses and engaged further with industry and health organisations to inform its thinking and next steps on this proposal. Government decided to legislate to restrict promotions of HFSS products by price (volume promotions) and location (checkouts, end of aisles and store entrances) in medium and large retailers that sell food and drink in England.
Government intends to use powers in the Food Safety Act (FSA) 1990 to lay secondary legislation before Parliament by mid-2021. Subject to being passed by Parliament, we will then allow at least a 6-month implementation period before the restrictions come into force. We will work with trade associations and local authorities to ensure businesses are supported in implementing the new requirement ahead of it coming into force.