NEWS16 May 2022

Online ad ban for unhealthy foods delayed for a year

Media News Public Sector UK Wellbeing

UK – The UK government has delayed the introduction of a ban on advertising high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) foods online for 12 months.

Junk food

The government said that the restrictions banning HFSS adverts on television before 9pm and paid-for adverts online will come into force January 2024, rather than at the beginning of 2023.

This is due to a delay to the Health and Care Bill receiving Royal Assent, as well as a recognition from government that industry needed more time to prepare.

A consultation on television and paid-for adverts online will be launched in the coming weeks.

Rules banning multibuy deals on HFSS foods and drinks – including buy one get one free, ‘3 for 2’ and restrictions on free refills for soft drinks – will also be delayed for a year in part due to the cost of living crisis.

However, restrictions on the placement of less healthy products in stores, specifically preventing unhealthy foods being promoted at checkouts, stores entrances, aisle ends and their online equivalents, will still come into force in October 2022.

Julia Lopez, media, data and digital minister, said: “We have listened to the concerns which have been raised and will not be bringing in restrictions on junk food advertising until confident that the time is right.

“Shoppers will now be able to continue taking advantage of multibuy offers on all foods, including healthier foods which were not included in the original restrictions.

“Addressing obesity remains a priority for government, and will reduce the strain put on the NHS as it works to tackle the Covid-19 backlogs.”

Sue Eustace, director of public affairs at the Advertising Association welcomed the delay.

“The announcement of a 12-month delay is a sensible decision at this time to allow the industry to work through with Government the most successful way to tackle obesity,” she said.

“The industry is committed to tackling this issue in a way that recognises the cost of living crisis and pressures that everybody is facing currently. There are many ways that advertising can help achieve this ambition, not least through promoting active lifestyles.

“We know from the evidence that an HFSS ad ban will not be the most effective route, and we welcome the opportunity to look again at this legislation and find the best way to a solution.”