Some supermarkets are “blatantly disregarding” rules aimed at tackling childhood obesity by placing limits on where crisps, sweets and fizzy drinks can be placed, a study has revealed.
A survey by the Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) and Food Active found that about a quarter of the 25 stores they visited placed sweets, crisps, fizzy drinks and other “less healthy” produce near checkouts or on end-of-aisle displays, The Guardian has reported.
Some of these supermarkets were showing “a blatant disregard for the policy and children’s health” according to the report, entitled Location, Location, Location, which also found supermarket breaches on grocer’s ecommerce sites.
The report comes a year after the government unveiled regulations on food promotion and placement in England, which give trading standards watchdogs and health officers the power to fine large supermarkets if they put some high fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) food in prominent locations.
However, the report claims that trading standards officers say they lack the resources to inspect shops and that some supermarket store managers are unaware of the regulations.
Katherine Jenner, director of the OHA, said that, while there were breaches, most supermarkets had taken HFSS regulations seriously.
“This shows that regulation can help make the healthy choice the easy choice for everyone,” she said.
“It also shows that, unfortunately, the food industry will often only follow the letter, not the spirit, of the law.
“This regulation was designed to help take junk food out of the spotlight but, due to exemptions in the policy, too many unhealthy food and drink products remain highly visible, both in store and online.”
HFSS rules only apply to larger retailers with more than 50 employees or in stores larger than 2,000 sq ft.
The government’s rules also included multibuy-offer bans and restrictions on advertising unhealthy food to children on TV, but the government has pushed implementing these bans until 2025.