Cost of living crisis: Ministers delay ban on ‘buy one get one free’ deals

Buy one get one free

The Prime Minister has been accused of “playing politics” with children’s lives (Image: EPA)

The government has postponed a ban on buy-one-get-one-free deals on unhealthy snacks due to the cost-of-living crisis.

The crackdown on the promotions – part of the UK’s strategy to reduce obesity – is being pushed back a year to October 2023.

Health Department officials said the postponement of the bogof (buy-one-get-one-free) ban should allow ministers to gauge the impact on household finances.

A 9pm ban on pre-watershed television advertising of junk food and paid online advertising is also being postponed by 12 months and now comes into effect in January 2024.

Health Secretary Maggie Throup insisted they remain committed to tackling the problem of childhood obesity.

But health campaigners reacted with dismay at the news, accusing Boris Johnson of “playing politics” with children’s health.

Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street

Boris Johnson has been accused of playing politics with people’s lives (Image: EPA)

The delay comes amid the biggest drop in living standards in 70 years due to rising inflation, taxes and energy bills.

Research last month showed food prices are rising at their fastest pace in 11 years, adding a further £271 to the amount the average household will have to pay at the checkout this year.

Ms Throup said: “We are committed to doing everything we can to help people lead healthier lives.

“By pausing restrictions on buy-one-get-one-free offers, we can understand the impact on consumers in an unprecedented global economy.”

But Graham MacGregor, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London and chair of Action on Sugar and Action on Salt, said the delays are completely at odds with the government’s “leveling” agenda.

“Boris Johnson could have left a legacy by being the first prime minister to tackle obesity in a meaningful way, particularly by restricting the advertising and promotion of unhealthy foods, which was his flagship policy,” he said.

“Instead, he has given in to his own MPs and an aggressive food industry, who, ironically, have begun to conform to this new policy.”

Barbara Crowther of the Children’s Food Campaign said the government should move faster on Bogof deals and not “hesitate and waver”.

“Obesity is on the rise and millions of families cannot afford to put decent food on the table. Multi-buy offers make people spend more on junk and less on healthy food,” she said.

“This delay threatens the UK target to halve childhood obesity by 2030. Boris is playing politics with the health of our children.”

Meanwhile, Labor’s shadow secretary for public health Andrew Gwynne accused the prime minister of “desperately trying to hold on to his job” with the delay and said “the ideology of Conservative MPs is being put before children’s health”. .

However, industry body Food and Drink Federation (FDF) welcomed the “pragmatism” of the government’s decision.

Kate Halliwell, FDF’s Chief Scientific Officer, said: “At a time when both families and our manufacturers are grappling with high inflation, it makes sense to limit volume discounts on essential food and beverages, including breakfast cereals and ready meals, and yoghurt, as this risks further stretching already tight household budgets.

‘We also welcome the delay in the start of advertising restrictions given the time it will take our industry to prepare for the change in the law.’

The DHSC said the restrictions on placing less healthy products in shops and supermarkets will come into effect in October 2022 as planned.

Controversial calorie labeling laws in major restaurants, cafes and takeaways came into force last month.

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Justin Scacco

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