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Junk food ad ban speculation rattles UK food industry

·2-min read
The Food and Drink Federation was praised for feeding the UK during the pandemic.
The Food and Drink Federation was praised for feeding the UK during the pandemic. Photo: Getty

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has called Boris Johnson’s alleged plans to ban junk food ads before 9pm a “slap in the face” after the industry’s hard work to keep the UK fed during COVID-19.

The government is rumoured to be launching an aggressive strategy restricting how unhealthy food is sold in efforts to combat obesity in the UK.

If measures go ahead hard-pressed shoppers could see their weekly shop costs rise “at an average cost of £600 ($765) per family.”

Restricting adverts and promotions could increase “food prices, reduce consumer choice and threaten jobs and investment across the UK at a precarious economic time,” said Tim Rycroft, chief operating officer at FDF.

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Responding to the speculations, Rycroft said: “If the rumours are true, then this will come as a slap in the face to the UK’s food and drink manufacturers and the half a million people we employ, so recently heralded heroes by government for feeding the nation during the Covid crisis.”

He continued: “The proposals are illogical, flying in the face of the government’s own reformulation programmes.

“We could see a ban on promotions of food such as mustard and mint sauce, days before the launch of the chancellor’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ campaign.

“We could have the Great British Bake Off with no cake adverts allowed. It will place enormous cost on broadcasters, while manufacturers who have done so much to bring new healthier options to market will now find they have no way of bring these to shoppers’ attention.”

According to reports some of the proposed measures to be introduced include, banning online and television adverts before 9pm and a ban on in-store promotions.

Previously Johnson was opposed to a tax on foods high in sugar, salt and fat, but his stint in intensive care after contracting coronavirus is said to have contributed to his changing position.

A government spokesperson declined to comment on speculation.

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