Scottish Government pauses junk food promotions legislation

obese child

The Scottish Government has put a new Bill restricting in-store promotions of foods deemed be high in fats, sugar or salt on hold.

The Bill, which had been promised within the next year, would also likely have placed restrictions on where products could be positioned within a store.

However, Minister for Public Health Joe FitzPatrick said pausing the introduction of the Restricting Food Promotions Bill would give the Scottish Government “an opportunity to take stock, take into account the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown, including on people’s diet and healthy weight”.

There are concerns that lockdown has caused some people to eat more and exercise less. Evidence may also suggest that Covid-19 causes more severe symptoms in those who are obese.

FitzPatrick said the Bill wouldn’t be introduced in the current parliament, which ends in May 2021.

He added: “We remain fully committed to restricting the promotion and marketing of foods high in fat, sugar or salt where they are sold to the public and will seek to progress this measure as soon as it is possible to do so.”

Scottish Grocers Federation welcomed the news. At the onset of the Covid-19 crisis, SGF wrote directly to the First Minister and key Cabinet Secretaries urging them not to bring forward any legislation which would adversely affect the convenience industry.

SGF Chief Executive Pete Cheema said: “We are delighted that that the Scottish government has listened to our concerns and taken this very pragmatic approach to this legislation. These are unprecedented times.

“Our industry will need time and support to recover from the Covid-19 crisis and it would have been ill-advised to enact this legislation which would have been costly, disruptive and ineffective.”

The Scottish government also recently announced that it had cancelled the proposed Circular Economy Bill. This would have introduced a coffee cup levy and increased the carrier bag charge.