Many food and drink manufacturers will be celebrating having “dodged a bullet” in not being subjected to tougher restrictions on the marketing and the promotion of foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) to children. But they’re still not happy about the proposed sugar tax on soft drinks that is central to the strategy.
Elsewhere, most health lobby groups have been spitting blood at the failure to rein in a sector, which they argue has been cynically peddling “junk food” to children.
They have argued that the new Conservative government has been nobbled by the food and drink industry into abandoning setting mandatory targets on the reformulation of HFSS foods and dumping proposals limiting their promotion and marketing put forward by Public Health England.
Meanwhile, Britain’s food and drink manufacturers continue to argue that far more has been achieved by voluntary reformulation than could ever have been achieved by mandatory regulations.
The only fly in the ointment of that argument, however, is the stance taken by a number of leading supermarket chains, led by the British Retail Consortium, that point to the lack of a “level playing field”, with some players doing a lot to make their products healthier while others, often at competitive advantage, doing nothing.
Ultimately, an holistic approach with joined up policies is the only way we will address the national obesity epidemic. But that is, very sadly, lacking.