Supermarkets ‘blatantly disregarding’ high-fat food placement law

Some supermarkets are showing a “blatant disregard” for a policy around the placement of high-fat foods, research suggests.

The Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) conducted field visits at 25 supermarkets based in London, the south west, and the north east of England which fall under the scope of legislation designed to restrict the promotion of high saturated fat sugar and salt (HFSS).

The legislation, launched in 2022, applies to businesses in England with over 50 employees that sell food or drink and is designed to encourage non-HFSS food or drink items to be placed in prominent locations opposed to their higher fat counterparts such as crisps or sweets.

The report by the OHA found that many of the stores surveyed had “gone to some effort” to redesign their stores for health and taking junk food out of the spotlight and replacing it with healthier food like whole fruit, nuts and water, or non-food items such as flowers, cards and newspapers.

The organisation revealed that some stores were ‘less’ compliant, with fairly minor breaches, while others were showing a “blatant disregard” for the policy and “child health”.

The Alliance found that seven of the 25 stores surveyed – 28 per cent – had potential breaches, with unhealthy food and drinks displayed in key locations.

Five of of the seven stores were ‘less’ compliant, with some less healthy (HFSS) food and drinks in key locations, while two of the seven stores were ‘mainly’ non-compliant, with HFSS food and drinks in key locations.

The remaining 18 stores – 72 per cent – were found to be ‘mainly’ compliant with legislation, with some stores opting to place whole, nutritionally dense foods or non-food items in key locations and others opting to place non-HFSS versions of highly processed products in key locations.

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