How will UK Government’s new health Bill impact the food sector and consumer?

Following the Queen’s Speech, New Food’s Editor takes a deep dive into the potential penalties of the brand new, pending “junk meals” promoting and calorie-labelling guidelines, which purpose to sort out the UK weight problems disaster.

Earlier this week, we heard how the UK Government plans to sort out the weight problems disaster and enhance psychological well being.

As a part of this technique, all UK eating places, pubs, cafes and takeaway companies (with greater than 250 staff) will likely be anticipated to checklist the quantity of energy every meal (not together with drinks) comprises. Additionally, there will likely be a ban on promoting “junk meals” on-line.

I’ve been mulling this information over for a number of days, considering not simply how this may influence the meals trade but additionally the way it will have an effect on customers. Here’s my view…

The weight problems disaster

Approximately 28 % of adults in England are overweight and an additional 26.2 % are chubby. Among youngsters, 9.9 % of four- to five-year-olds are overweight – a determine that rises to 21 % in children aged 10-11.1

Following his brush with loss of life final 12 months, the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, had a critical shift in mindset over well being and diet. At the identical time, we heard warnings of a potential hyperlink between weight problems and extreme sickness from Covid, with consultants claiming that being chubby or overweight elevated – by round 37 % – your probabilities of dying from the illness.

It’s not clear why that is, however the British Heart Foundation (BHF)2 suggests it might be as a result of weight problems being linked to circumstances similar to diabetes and coronary heart illness, which have additionally been linked to an elevated threat of dying from COVID-19.

The charity additionally factors out that those that are overweight usually tend to have respiratory difficulties, which places them at elevated threat of creating pneumonia – a critical complication of the COVID-19 an infection. Furthermore, as the center is dependent upon the lungs to provide oxygen to the blood, difficulties in respiratory place it below pressure.

Commenting on the brand new Bill, the BHF’s Chief Executive, Dr Charmaine Griffiths, stated: “These plans have the potential to remodel take care of the 7.6 million individuals dwelling with coronary heart and circulatory circumstances within the UK immediately, and stop extra illness sooner or later.

“The pandemic has hit coronary heart sufferers laborious, with delays to care and cuts to important medical analysis funding threatening to reverse many years of hard-earned progress in lowering loss of life charges from coronary heart illness and stroke except we take daring motion now.” 

Overall, weight problems prices the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) £4.2 billion a 12 months.3 According to the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), “with out pressing and radical motion this may rise to £10 billion a 12 months by 2050”.

It was subsequently evident that the UK wanted to take measures to assist alleviate pressures on the already overwhelmed NHS – which the Government has accomplished, by way of the aforementioned Bill. Whether or not the steps proposed are the appropriate ones, nevertheless, is topic to debate. 

Mandatory menu labelling

Commenting on the rumours of necessary labelling final 12 months, UKHospitality’s CEO, Kate Nicholls, warned that “menu labelling might value as a lot as £40,000 per menu run for some companies” and disincentivises the innovation and sustainable approaches we’ve got been witnessing throughout UK meals companies within the type of each day specials and regionally sourced seasonal dishes. She added that this may occasionally have a knock-on impact, stifling efforts to supply “thrilling and wholesome meals to clients”.

“A well-intentioned focusing on of kid weight problems is liable to evolving into an interventionist method that heaps burdens on hospitality companies simply when they’re at their most weak and combating for survival,” she said. “At-risk sections of society want particular focusing on however essentially the most constructive method with most of society is to supply efficient and credible instruments to permit individuals to make knowledgeable selections about their life, diet and train, from as early an age as potential.

“The sector is eager to play an lively and constructive function in serving to to ship and help initiatives in faculties, to raised talk the advantages of wholesome cooking and consuming – there’s merely no query that training has an infinite function to play in lowering weight problems in the long run.”

She concluded that the hospitality sector is eager to collaborate with authorities to deal with weight problems however highlighted fears that further laws and expense couldn’t come at a worse time.

“Hospitality has performed its half in lockdown, feeding and accommodating weak individuals and key employees. Now, as we deal with securing jobs and serving to the financial system and communities to recuperate, a raft of prices and regulatory burdens could be a slap within the face.”

In a extra recent statement, Nicholls echoed her earlier sentiments: “Hospitality shares the Government’s goals in tackling weight problems. However, there are flaws and dangers in a few of the approaches that Government might take, so we’d urge shut and significant session with companies, as a way to produce proportionate, knowledgeable and properly thought of laws.”restaurant menu

But charity Action on Sugar/Salt has embraced the information with open arms.

“We warmly welcome the information that the Government will lastly be making Britain more healthy. Whilst bringing in these landmark weight problems insurance policies will make the UK world-leading, it’s completely essential that we not solely forestall weight problems, but additionally deal with those that are chubby. This should embody product reformulation,” Professor Graham MacGregor, Chair of Action on Sugar and Action on Salt, Queen Mary University of London, stated.

He pointed to the worrying figures printed final 12 months of weight problems charges together with the hyperlink between weight problems and Covid mortality charges, including that “the food and drinks trade, together with the hospitality sector, should not dither or delay any longer”.

Mental well being and calorie counting

Another space to be conscious of is the potential influence that menu labelling could have on these with consuming issues.

Calorie counting is usually used to take care of weight or forestall oneself from consuming an extreme quantity, however it may arguably additionally result in obsessive behaviour that can lead to anxiousness about meals.

In 2019, the BBC reported on the unfavorable results that calorie-counting apps can have, and an investigation recognized greater than 20 dangerous entries generated by customers of such purposes.

“Many individuals with consuming issues depend energy or observe weight reduction to the purpose of obsession, and such apps can facilitate or exacerbate such behaviours and make restoration more durable,” Tom Quinn from Beat advised the BBC.

It’s estimated that 1.25 million individuals within the UK have an consuming dysfunction.4 It’s additionally value noting that such diseases are all the time about below consuming – a guest post on BEAT by a girl (Katy) who suffered with binge-eating dysfunction covers this significantly properly.

In this weblog, she states confidently that the Government’s weight problems technique is “not going to work”.

“It’s primarily based on the premise that the excessive charges of weight problems on this nation are all the way down to a ignorance and data concerning the calorific content material of the meals that we eat, and that straightforward ‘nudges’ similar to calorie content material on restaurant labels will in some way encourage individuals who’ve been chubby or overweight for a very long time to lastly ‘shed these kilos’ and be wholesome and completely satisfied,” she wrote.

Katy acknowledges that lowering energy will end in weight reduction, however argues whether or not it’s a sustainable choice – highlighting her personal private struggles with sustaining a calorie-restricted weight-reduction plan.

She factors to research conducted by the BMJ which discovered that almost all of in style diets solely resulted in short-term outcomes.

A most poignant comment she makes on this weblog is that “weight problems and consuming issues should not separate points”. When one considers an consuming dysfunction, you probably image somebody underweight however many individuals struggling with this sickness are, Katy says, overweight.

“I might guess an honest sum of money that a big portion of individuals within the UK who could be deemed overweight have already tried weight-reduction plan, are hyperaware of the calorie content material in most meals, and lots of are most likely locked in a vicious and demoralising cycle of bingeing and weight-reduction plan that the Government’s technique won’t repair,” her publish learn.

She really useful that the Government invests in programmes for individuals with consuming issues and transfer away from what she described as “stigmatising and shaming language and campaigns”.

Calorie counting will also be fairly inaccurate – we’re all totally different and subsequently what applies to at least one individual doesn’t essentially apply to a different. There is a plethora of things which may affect our vitality wants, together with intercourse, age, top, muscle-to-fat ratio, temperature, train ranges, kind of meals and even the spacing and timing of meals eaten.5

With this in thoughts, I’m wondering how efficient labelling menus will likely be. Will it merely be a novelty that wears off in just a few months; will it influence and encourage unfavorable relationships with meals; will it place an unsustainable burden on meals companies? Or, will it assist customers to make knowledgeable selections and encourage meals suppliers to supply more healthy alternate options?

Finally, the final level to boost on the menu subject is the choice to not embody drinks.

The authentic plan, to introduce calorie labelling on alcoholic drinks, was met with indignant retorts from the beverage sector and so I think about the pub trade had a pleasing shock when there was no point out to incorporate them within the new ruling.

According to the Daily Mail, the Government merely stated they’d listened to suggestions from the session, and they’re of the assumption that it’s the appropriate method “for now”. An curious alternative of phrases – maybe suggesting that this might be topic to vary?

The session response is because of be printed later, so it will likely be fascinating to learn, in additional element, why the choice to exclude drinks from the calorie labelling rule was made, in addition to fleshed out plans for the brand new Bill, in fact. 

Online ban on junk meals

The Queen’s Speech additionally confirmed whispers of a complete ban on junk meals promoting on-line.

The new laws will imply that tv and on-line promotions on meals with excessive fats, salt and sugar (HFSS) contents will likely be restricted, with a complete ban on-line and an imposed watershed for adverts.

The transfer has been met with extreme criticism from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).
children on phone

“The promoting bans on TV and on-line outlined in immediately’s Queen’s Speech, confirms this Government is fascinated with headline chasing coverage reasonably than making critical interventions that may assist scale back weight problems charges,” its Chief Scientific Officer, Kate Halliwell said.
“A proposed promoting ban would take away lower than 5 energy a day from youngsters’s diets, in response to the Government’s personal estimates. And but the proposals restrict the scope for promoting merchandise which have been rigorously reformulated or created in smaller parts in step with the Government’s personal targets. For instance, Cadbury wouldn’t be capable of promote their 30 % diminished sugar Dairy Milk.
“This is tying companies’ palms, by limiting how more healthy choices could be efficiently delivered to market. It undercuts what has been a key pillar of the Government’s weight problems technique and demonstrates an absence of joined-up coverage making.”

Christopher Snowdown, Head of Lifestyle Economics at free-market suppose tank the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has additionally expressed his displeasure on the information, and stated it was a “shock” to seek out that the Government was certainly urgent forward with the ban on “so-called junk meals” advertisements on-line and TV.

“There isn’t any passable authorized definition of ‘junk meals’ and the proposals would ban most meals corporations from promoting most of their merchandise,” Snowdown stated.

“Every enterprise from the most important meals company to the native wedding ceremony cake maker and bakery would discover their freedom to speak with clients severely curtailed.

“Broadcasters would lose out on a lot wanted income. It is a very ill-considered coverage that no different nation has launched. It needs to be binned,” he stated.

According to the Guardian, TV broadcasters have beforehand defined that pre-watershed bans on HFSS would value them over £200 million in revenues per 12 months.

In a letter to the Times final 12 months, the Advertising Association’s CEO, Stephen Woodford, wrote: “The Government’s newest influence evaluation confirmed {that a} 9pm watershed ban on HFSS promoting would at greatest solely take away about 1.7 energy a day from a toddler’s weight-reduction plan. This is the equal of half a Smartie, a trivial influence at a really giant value to trade and jobs.

“As the nation recovers from the COVID-19 disaster, we have to make efficient decisions and the Government’s personal proof exhibits {that a} 9pm watershed shouldn’t be considered one of these.”

Insight firm IRI estimates that fifty % of the entire HFSS advertising spend (£384 million) within the UK will likely be affected. This is value £192 million to food and drinks producers and retailers, Carl Carter, Marketing Strategy & Effectiveness Director at IRI, identified.

Advertising could be efficient at driving gross sales for manufacturers. Well executed and optimised promoting spend nudges customers in direction of one model over a competitor within the class, reasonably than into the class itself. So, in case you are within the temper for one thing candy and within the confectionery aisle, there’s loads of proof that having lately been uncovered to promoting will improve your probabilities of including that model into your consideration set reasonably than drawing you into a very new class you’ve not shopped earlier than.”

Against the pending restrictions, IRI has outlined 5 choices for food and drinks advertisers:

  1. Accept the ban, with producers and retailers absorbing a lack of £192 million
  2. Move promoting spend to post-watershed, with a predicted lack of £112 million in gross sales
  3. Move promoting spend to different channels, with a predicted lack of £96 million in gross sales
  4. Advertise an alternate low fats, sugar, salt (LFSS) model – 78 % of producers have a non-HFSS product. But, by shifting promoting to merchandise with decrease penetration or new product improvement, we’d count on to see decrease returns and a decrease halo influence throughout manufacturers. IRI predicts an influence on gross sales of -£80–100 million.
  5. Re-formulate HFSS merchandise to be compliant. This might be the best choice for producers, with a decrease influence on gross sales of -£30-75 million, but additionally essentially the most troublesome. While this may permit for a continuation of promoting of core merchandise with the very best penetration, it’s extremely advanced and will face client pushback, whereas some merchandise can’t be reformulated.

Carter concluded: “While it’s a difficult time for a lot of FMCG manufacturers and retailers, now’s the time to research new alternatives and check new media methods forward of the laws coming into impact.”

I posed the next query to my Linked In connections: The on-line ban on junk meals is:

  1. A horrible concept
  2. A fantastic concept
  3. I’ve no concept
  4. Other

There’s nonetheless just a few days till the ballot closes, however thus far my connections (principally meals professionals) are in favour of the ban (49 % of the 114 votes solid presently). I’ll control it and replace you on the outcomes in the end…


There will all the time be arguments for and towards present and rising insurance policies – there’ll all the time be those that are negatively impacted and people who profit. I suppose the reply will lie within the figures – whether or not the nice outweighs the unhealthy and if the tip justifies the means.

I think about we are going to start to see extra revolutionary methods of promoting from the food and drinks sector and that menu calorie labelling turns into a kind of stuff you see however not everybody pays consideration to (very like the visitors lights on packaging).

Finally, I sincerely hope that media headlines that declare meals similar to avocado and salmon might fall foul of the HSFF rulings are simply rumour click-bait, however I suppose we must wait and see.  

Do you’ve got ideas on this? Let me know within the feedback part beneath.



Recommended For You

About the Author: Adrian

Leave a Reply