Supermarkets and fast-food outlets face restrictions on promoting ‘junk’ foods under new proposals put forward by the Scottish Government.
Outlawing super-sizing and free refills of sugary soft drinks, clamping down on multi-buy promotions, and restricting junk food at checkouts are among actions being considered to improve Scotland’s health.
Other restrictions on foods high in fat, sugar or salt are set to be placed on free samples, rewards such as loyalty points or vouchers, and upselling of increased sizes or extra products.
The restrictions would cover confectionery, sweet biscuits, crisps, savoury snacks, cakes, pastries, puddings, and soft drinks with added sugar. Views are being sought on whether to also cover ice-cream and dairy desserts.
The restrictions would apply to any place where targeted foods are sold to the public, including retail and out of home outlets. Restrictions to online sale are also being considered.
Scotland’s public health minister Joe Fitzpatrick said the proposals were “groundbreaking” and that future policy would be “proportionate” to the scale of the obesity challenge facing Scotland.
“Restricting the in-store promotion and marketing of food high in fat, sugar or salt is crucial to tackling our nation’s damaging relationship with junk food,” he added.
Campaigners welcomed the news. Cancer Research UK prevention expert Professor Linda Bauld said: “The introduction of laws to curb bargain buys for food and drink high in fat and sugar would be an effective way of helping people make healthier choices.”
The SRC, however, which represents Scottish retailers, said the steps being proposed represented a significant intervention in the market. “For government to decide which food products can be placed in which part of a store is an unprecedented measure, and one which will be incredibly complex,” said SRC head of policy Ewan MacDonald-Russell. “For this intervention to be reasonable and proportionate, it’s vital the Scottish Government are forensic in identifying and justifying the products which they put into the scope of these restrictions.”