Supermarkets ‘blatantly disregarding’ HFSS rules

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Some UK supermarkets are “blatantly disregarding” rules aimed at tackling childhood obesity by placing restrictions on where products high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) can be placed.

According to a report from the Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) and Food Active, a quarter of the 25 stores they had visited had put sweets, crisps, fizzy drinks or other “less healthy” items in parts of the shop that include near checkouts or on end-of-aisle displays.

The stores “were showing a blatant disregard for the policy and children’s health”, according to the report, Location, location, location, which also found breaches in the grocer’s online sites.

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OHA director Katherine Jenner said that despite some breaches, most supermarkets had taken the HFSS regulations seriously.

“This shows that regulation can help make the healthy choice the easy choice for everyone,” she said.

“It also shows that, unfortunately, the food industry will often only follow the letter, not the spirit, of the law.

“This regulation was designed to help take junk food out of the spotlight but, due to exemptions in the policy, too many unhealthy food and drink products remain highly visible both in-store and online.”

The research comes a year after the government introduced regulations on HFSS food promotion and placement in England. The rules only apply to larger retailers with more than 50 employees or in stores larger than 2,000 sq ft.

The restrictions also extend to multibuy offers and advertising unhealthy food to children on TV, but the government has pushed back implementing these until 2025.

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