Does the UK’s proposed junk food ad ban reduce the motivation to reformulate?

Table of Contents A barrier to reformulation? ​‘Unhealthy food is now the biggest cause of

The Government’s Health and Care Bill, announced in yesterday’s Queen’s Speech, will restrict promotions on high fat, salt and sugar food and 25 drinks in retailers from April 2022.

The proposed legislation includes measures to ban junk food adverts pre-9pm watershed on TV and for a total ban online. The Government will also look to introduce secondary legislation to require restaurant chains with 250 or more employees to calorie label the food they sell. Pubs will not be required to add calorie information on drinks.

The proposed legislation will limit what food companies can say about junk food products on websites to only facts such as price, ingredients and nutritional content. Paid-for displays, text messages and web searches and promotional emails promoting unhealthy foods will also be banned. The government has said these restrictions would apply only to large companies and not to small independent producers.

Although details have yet to be sketched out, it is believed the Government will define which foods to restrict based on current regulations in place since 2007 banning food and drink products that are high in fat, sugar or salt being advertised during television aimed at children.

A barrier to reformulation?

The Food and Drink Federation’s chief scientific officer, Kate Halliwell, said the proposals demonstrated a lack of ‘joined-up policy making’ and would not help reduce obesity rates. She added that restrictions would deter companies from reformulating products made with less sugar, salt and fat as these would still be included in the ban.