Government delays some HFSS rules

confectionery

Rules banning multibuy deals on foods and drinks high in fat, salt, or sugar (HFSS) and restrictions on free refills for soft drinks will be delayed for a year.

The government said the delay will enable it to review and monitor the impact of the restrictions on the cost-of-living in light of an unprecedented global economic situation.

However, restrictions on the placement of less healthy products will still come into force in October 2022 as planned. These will mean less healthy products are no longer promoted in key locations, such as checkouts, store entrances, and aisle ends.

The restrictions banning HFSS adverts on TV before 9pm and paid-for adverts online will also be paused for a year, meaning they come into force in January 2024. This is due to a delay to the Health and Care Bill receiving Royal assent, as well as a growing recognition that the industry needs more time to prepare.

Public Health Minister, Maggie Throup, said: “We’re committed to doing everything we can to help people live healthier lives. 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.”

The Association of Convenience Stores has warned that the “ongoing chaos” over the introduction of HFSS regulations will serve only to impose more costs for consumers and cause confusion for retailers.

ACS chief executive, James Lowman, said: “The government’s insistence on pushing ahead with costly and confusing regulations at a time when consumers and retailers are facing significant financial pressure is nothing short of astonishing. While everyone else is trying to navigate the worst cost of living and cost of business crisis in memory, the government is regulating to send officials round to shops with tape measures to make sure yoghurt and pizza aren’t displayed too close to the door or on the end of an aisle.

“Going ahead with the location restrictions in October this year, costing thousands of pounds per store will have a huge impact on thousands of small businesses that are already struggling to make ends meet. Retailers cannot absorb these costs, they will ultimately have to pass them onto their customers during the same month that everyone’s energy costs are set to skyrocket. We once again urge the government to rethink these regulations, and to properly consider the implications for retailers and consumers.”