Retail groups call for delay in new unhealthy food regulations

Retail groups call for delay in new unhealthy food regulations
Business groups have called for clarity from the government over new regulations on foods containing high levels of fat, salt and sugar (HFSS).
The groups, which include the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), say the rules are so unclear that they want a delay in their implementation from October next year to April 2023.
James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores said: “We are committed to working with the Government to ensure that retailers comply with the new regulations when they come into force, but the clock is ticking toward the implementation date and we’re no closer to having a clear set of regulations and guidance that retailers can follow.
“These regulations will force retailers into making huge changes to the way that their stores are laid out, as well as almost starting from scratch on the offers that they can provide to customers.
“With so many unanswered questions, the only sensible option is to delay the introduction of the rules to at least Spring 2023 to allow everyone to prepare.”
The groups query how businesses can accurately calculate the nutritional profile of their products; who is responsible for how products are promoted online; and whether retailers can promote HFSS products alongside non-food items – eg a newspaper and a drink at a set price.
Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers are fully committed to working constructively with government to tackle obesity and help consumers lead healthier lifestyles.
“They have led the way, reformulating own-brand products, promoting healthier options and working with local communities to highlight the benefits of eating well.
“However, with less than 12 months to go until the new regulations come into force, retailers are still waiting for clarity on the detail of the regulations and accompanying guidance.
“Without this, they cannot start to carry out the required work to bring stores and websites to compliance, which will involve making major changes to the way stores are laid out and the promotions they can offer customers.
“The government has already acknowledged that businesses need at least 12 months to prepare and moving the implementation date to Spring 2023 would give an appropriate timeframe for retailers to work towards.”