Ban on online junk food ads WILL go ahead


Boris’s nanny state? Ban on online junk food ads WILL go ahead despite claims ministers were trying to kill off ‘half-baked’ idea

  • Government is pushing ahead with plans for total ban on online junk food ads
  • Proposals were put out for consultation before Christmas but face opposition
  • Understood it faced fierce resistance to going ahead within the government 

Boris Johnson is set to go ahead with plans for a total ban on online junk food ads despite industry experts branding it ‘not even half-baked’. 

The Queen’s Speech includes legislation to impose the restrictions, along with a block on TV ads before the 9pm watershed and ending ‘BOGOF’ deals for unhealthy foods. 

The proposals were put out to consultation before Christmas, but faced opposition from senior Tories and the industry. Critics said the online ads move was ‘insane’ after research suggested it might only shave a couple of calories a day off children’s intake. 

There have been claims the restriction could affect avocados, hummus and Marmite – although officials insist it would be targeted at foods high in sugar, salt, fat or calories. 

According to the new legislative plan the government ‘will restrict the promotions on high fat, salt and sugar food and drinks in retailers from April 2022’. 

The Health and Care Bill will also ‘include measures to ban junk food adverts pre-9pm watershed on TV and for a total ban online’.

Boris Johnson was once a vocal opponent of state meddling in eating and drinking habits, speaking out against efforts by Jamie Oliver to reform school meals.  

Boris Johnson (pictured running this week) was once a vocal opponent of state meddling in eating and drinking habits, speaking out against efforts by Jamie Oliver to reform school meals

There have been claimed the restriction could affect avocados and Marmite - although officials insist it would be targeted at foods high in sugar, salt, fat or calories

There have been claimed the restriction could affect avocados and Marmite – although officials insist it would be targeted at foods high in sugar, salt, fat or calories

What might be covered by online ad ban? 

The proposed ban on junk food adverts online will target food and drink products are high in fat, sugar and salt.

How a product is classified as HFSS has not been finalised yet.

Experts suggest the ‘traffic light’ system on food packaging could be used. The Government has also developed the Nutrient Profile Model. 

Foods that could be considered HFSS under these methods could include: 

  • Avocados
  • Salmon 
  • Marmite
  • Mustard
  • Hummus 
  • Ketchup
  • Cheese
  • Honey 
  • Oils and dressings 
  • Butter and spreads 
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Crisps and savoury snacks
  • Biscuits  

But he underwent a Damascene conversion after admitting being ‘too fat’ was part of the reason for needing hospital treatment for coronavirus.

Last summer the PM unveiled a wide-ranging drive to improve public health, including a ban on buy-one-get-one-free deals for junk food, as well as the ban on online junk food adverts. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock previously pointed to studies suggesting children see 15billion adverts for unhealthy food every year.

He has voiced determination to ‘help parents, children and families in the UK make healthier choices’ and offer reassurance that children are not being exposed to adverts promoting unhealthy foods ‘which can affect eating habits for life’.

But while the Obesity Health Alliance and British Heart Foundation welcomed the idea many Tories view it as an unacceptable intervention by the ‘nanny state’. 

There have been claims it could stop pubs struggling with Covid from putting menus on social media. 

The food industry has condemned the scheme as ‘not even half-baked’, saying it ‘beggars belief’.

The Institute of Economic Affairs think-tank warned it would cover ‘everything from jam and yoghurt to Cornish pasties and mustard’.

The think-tank added in a statement last year: ‘It is an ill-considered policy designed by fanatics who have missold it to politicians as a ban on ‘junk food’ advertising.’

Hummus is another product that critics have warned could be affected by the move

Hummus is another product that critics have warned could be affected by the move

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