Restricting promotions on food and drink high in fat, sugar or salt

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Closes 23 Sep 2022

Foods that would be subject to restrictions

In this section, we are seeking views on which food categories should be included in promotions restrictions. Further information on previous consultation responses, and how our proposals compare with UK Government regulations and Welsh Government consultation proposals are set out in Section 1 of the full consultation paper (this link will open in a new window). 

1. Which food categories should foods promotion restrictions target?

Option 1: Discretionary food categories

Discretionary food categories are foods typically high in calories, fat, sugar and/or salt (HFSS) and which are not needed as part of a healthy balanced diet. These are:

  • confectionery
  • sweet biscuits
  • crisps
  • savoury snacks (for example, cereal snacks, popcorn, corn snacks)
  • cakes
  • pastries (for example, Danish pastries, croissants, pain au chocolats, tarts, flans)
  • puddings (for example, fruit puddings, sponge puddings, sticky toffee pudding)
  • soft drinks with added sugar such as cola or lemonade

Option 2: Discretionary foods + ice cream and dairy desserts

  • All categories in Option 1 above,
  • Ice cream and dairy desserts.

Option 3: Categories that are of most concern to childhood obesity

We are also considering expanding the food categories that would be subject to promotions restrictions, which would be consistent with those set out in the UK Government regulations for England. The additional foods categories we are considering targeting are:

  • Breakfast cereals
  • Sweetened yoghurt and fromage frais
  • Pizza
  • Ready meals
  • Roast potatoes, chips and similar potato products.

In Scotland, at a population level, these additional categories account for a further 11% of calories in the diet, with breakfast cereals, yoghurts and fromage frais specifically contributing an additional 6% of free sugars.

Option 4: All categories included in the UK-wide reformulation programmes

Another option, which the Welsh Government is also consulting on, is to include all the categories included in the UK-wide reformulation programmes. These are:

  • All categories in Options 1, 2 and 3,
  • Garlic bread
  • Pies and quiches
  • Bread with additions
  • Savoury biscuits crackers and crispbreads
  • Cooking sauces and pastes
  • Table sauces and dressings
  • Processed meat product
  • Pasta /rice/ noodles with added ingredients and flavours
  • Prepared dips and composite salads as meal accompaniments
  • Egg products/dishes
  • Sweet spreads.
2. Should nutrient profiling be used within all targeted food categories to identify non-HFSS foods?

We propose to apply the 2004/05 Nutrition Profiling Model (NPM), which is a scoring model developed to identify HFSS products, to all targeted food categories. Foods identified as non-HFSS within targeted food categories would not be subject to restriction. 

Definition: Nutrient Profiling

Nutrient profiling uses a scoring system which balances the contribution made by beneficial nutrients that are particularly important in diets with components in the food that the population should eat less of. The overall score indicates whether that food (or drink) is HFSS – or not. Foods which score 4 or higher, and drinks which score 1 or higher under this model are classed as HFSS. Using a NPM requires the availability of information on a product’s composition. This includes the energy, saturated fat, sugar and sodium content of a product, as well as the content of fruit and vegetables, fibre and protein.

We propose to use the 2004/05 Nutrient Profiling Model (this link will open in a new window) 2004/05 (NPM) to identify the products within categories which are subject to restrictions. 

Definition: HFSS

HFSS (high fat, sugar and salt): Foods which are high in fat, sugar and/or salt. In the UK, these are defined in the UK Nutrient Profiling Model (NPM). 

3. If nutrient profiling were used, do you agree with the proposal to only target pre-packed products and non-pre-packed soft drinks with added sugar in respect of unlimited refills for a fixed charge?

Applying nutrient profiling to categories requires availability of information on a product’s composition. Foods that are pre-packed off premises such as confectionery or crisps are required to provide nutrition information (including calories per 100g/ml) through the Food Information to Consumers Regulation (this link will open in a new window).  Because of this, our proposed approach most feasibly applies to pre-packed products only, as nutritional information is more easily available.

Non-pre-packed products, such as loose bakery items, would be out of scope because businesses may not be able to determine whether these products can or cannot be promoted due to relevant nutritional information not being available. We propose an exception in respect of unlimited refills of soft drinks for a fixed charge, where non-pre-packed soft drinks with added sugar that are HFSS or ‘less healthy’ (as defined by the NPM) would be in scope of the policy. Further detail on our proposals in respect of unlimited refills is set out in the following section.

Definition: Pre-packed

Pre-packed means any single item for presentation as such to the final consumer and to mass caterers (this link will open in a new window), consisting of a food and the packaging into which it was put before being offered for sale, whether such packaging encloses the food completely or only partially, but in any event in such a way that the contents cannot be altered without opening or changing the packaging. ‘Pre-packed food’ does not cover foods packed on the sales premises at the consumer’s request or pre-packed for direct sale.