Calls against junk food advertising fall flat

The UK government has proposed a ban on junk food advertising both on TV and online, but the idea has not been well-received by the food industry. As part of its efforts to combat childhood obesity, the government has proposed a 9pm watershed on TV and online advertising for products high in fat, sugar and salt – known by the acronym HFSS.

However, response from the Food and Drink Federation has been overwhelmingly negative, with the industry body saying that the consultation was an ‘insult’ given the industry is busy preparing the imminent departure from the European Union.

“It suggests that the Department of Health and Social Care has failed to notice that the UK is still not out of the Brexit logjam, nor that food and drink companies are battling to ensure the nation is fed,” said Food and Drink Federation COO Tim Rycroft. “Until a delay to the March 29 withdrawal date is agreed by the UK and the EU, and parliament removes that date from the withdrawal act, manufacturers will have a total focus on averting the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit, avoiding food shortages and keeping prices to a minimum.”

While Rycroft admitted that the issue was “serious and important,” he questioned the timing of the proposal.

“It could and should have been delayed until a no-deal Brexit was completely out of the question. Unless there is a material change to Brexit prospects, FDF will not be responding.”

Further to straight-out opposition, there are more issues at play – first and foremost, what actually constitutes an HFSS food. The government has said that the ban will not include staples like meat, oil or butter, some definitions have it including raisins, humus, margarine and cheese.