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New Ways To Regulate Promotions Of Unhealthy Foods In England

New Ways To Regulate Promotions Of Unhealthy Foods In England
If the United Kingdom government goes ahead with its plans of restricting how supermarkets sell and advertise chocolate, soda and other foods high in sugar, salt and fat, as a part of its strategy of addressing the issue of obesity, there would be "devastating" results for consumers and businesses, the food and drink industry of the country has warned.
The Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement on Monday that all retailers in England who have more than 50 employees will come under the purview of the new law and it is slated to come into effect starting April 2022. Some of the new restrictions would not be applicable for stores that are smaller than 2,000 square feet in size and those retailers who specialize in selling specific products such as chocolatiers and sweet shops.
Advertisements and promotions in stores and on online platforms that make offers for unhealthy foods requiring customers to purchase more of the products so that they can take advantage of the discount — such as offers of "buy one get one free" or "3 for 2" promotions — will not be allowed at all. In addition to such restrictions on chocolates, soft drinks, sweets and potato chips, other so called unhealthy food products such as  pastries, breakfast cereals, pizzas, ready meals and battered products, such as breaded chicken and fish will also be included in the new promotions and advertising restrictions.
"Key locations" in stores such as checkout counters, store entrances and at the end of aisles will not be allowed to carry the unhealthy promotions under the new law. Also banned will be free refills of sugary soft drinks in restaurants.
The country’s Public Health Minister Jo Churchill said in the statement that the new restrictions will ensure that "the healthy choice is the easy choice".
"Creating an environment which helps everyone eat healthier foods more regularly is crucial to improving the health of the nation," she added.
But the new regulations will have "harsh economic impacts" for producers and consumers, warned the Food and Drink Federation, which represents manufacturers.
"The proposed restrictions will not only increase the cost of food for families but it will have harsh economic impacts for food and drink manufacturers who are already bracing themselves for the new costs of Brexit and the repercussions of the global pandemic," Chief Operating Officer Tim Rycroft said in a statement.
These measures are being imposed by the UK government to address the rates of obesity in the country which, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, is amongst the highest in the world.
In 2007, restrictions on advertising of unhealthy foods targeted at children on television were prevent in Britain and in 2018, a tax on sugary soft drinks was imposed by the government. A new campaign to bring down obesity in the country was launched earlier this year by the government which includes proposals that would require restaurants to mention the amount of calories to food on their menu list.
"Today's announcement forms a key part of the government's strategy to tackle obesity and get the nation fit and healthy," the Department of Health and Social Care said on Monday. The impact that obesity can have on the health outcomes for people was further highlighted by the current pandemic, it added.
"Promotions often appear to help shoppers save money, however data shows that these deals actually increase purchases of promoted products by almost 20% by encouraging people to buy more than they need or intended to buy in the first place," it added.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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