Changes to the HFSS Timetable
In May 2022, the Department of Health announced that there would be delays to the introduction of restrictions in the marketing of HFSS (high fat, sugars and salt) foods.
HFSS foods are those which score highly on the Government Nutrient Profile model, but the regulations only apply if they fall under certain categories:
- soft drinks with added sugars,
- savoury snacks,
- breakfast cereals,
- ice cream and lollies,
- sweet biscuits,
- bars made with cereal,
- nuts and or seeds,
- morning goods,
- desserts and puddings,
- sweetened yoghurt and fromage frais,
- potato products (such as chips)
- and ready meals.
It had previously been announced that, from October 2022, HFSS foods in certain categories could not be:
a) sold as a multi-buy offer (such as buy one, get one free) or
b) positioned in key locations (such as the ends of aisles)
Also, from January 2023, HFSS in those categories could not be advertised on television before 9pm or in paid-for advertising online.
Restrictions on multi-buy offers and the advertising will now be deferred for at least a year, at which time the Government intends to review them.
However, restrictions on product location will still be applied in October.
Easing some of the restrictions is clearly a reaction to an attempt to alleviate, in a small way, the financial pressure that many people will soon face, which will be caused by food price rises and inflation.
The curbs on HFSS marketing were designed to reduce obesity, especially in children. Easing them does prompt a question about whether the Government is serious about this problem.
But it could be argued that financial problems may lead to problems of mental health, which could have far-reaching consequences. Also, worry, anxiety and depression are known to encourage comfort-eating, which is going to be counter-productive in this situation.
It will be interesting to see how this pans out and in particular whether the Government ever returns to banning BOGOF offers on HFSS foods.