Delay to new rules on high fat, salt and sugar foods branded the “new Brexit”

UK retailers have called for more time and clarity before the government’s laws to restrict where they can sell HFSS (high fat, salt and sugar) food in their shops come into force.

A survey by AI nutrition technology company Spoon Guru shows that a quarter of respondents working in the top 11 supermarkets feel that they are uninformed about what the HFSS legislation will entail, which could lead to monetary penalties. The findings reveal that two thirds (61 per cent) of respondents think the current delay to enforcing the new rules should be further increased by seven months or more.

The rules on product placing and multibuys of HFSS food will now come into force in October 2022 instead of April, but the government has yet to announce more detail on which products will be classed as HFSS foods. Supermarkets will have to assess the name brands as well their own label products to ensure they meet new regulations.

Over a third (35 per cent) are concerned that they will end up falling foul of the new rules and less than a fifth (18 per cent) admit that they don’t know where to begin with their preparations. In spite of this, 60% of the respondents acknowledged that they themselves have a key role to play in the HFSS legislation. This was followed by 46% believing that the Government needs to be involved and 42% stating that brands also have an integral role in the process.

“We understand why the government has delayed the enforcement of this legislation,” said Johanna Bolinder, Head of Health and Sustainability at Spoon Guru. “The HFSS changes undoubtedly carry several bureaucratic hallmarks in that this is very complex legislation which many people are struggling to understand and implement. The good news is that we can help. Retailers and the government need to work with technology companies like ourselves to make the transition easier for everyone.”

Outside of clearer guidelines, 41% think that technology can help them manage & execute new HFSS regulations.

Spoon Guru’s proprietary technology platform offers nutritionist-led categorisation of products according to new guidelines to support retailers and staff in meeting the new guidelines, as well as storing and communicating HFSS scores between head offices and individual stores to ensure consistent compliance and relieving pressure on individual staff.

This technology also ensures consistency for regulators, with the platform updating daily to reflect the latest changes to guidelines and ensure clear communication between all parties. This data also supports product manufacturers, helping them seamlessly share 100% accurate data for products and confirming their HFSS status automatically through Spoon Guru’s sophisticated algorithm & QA process.

Commenting on the new guidelines, Sharon Bligh, Healthier Lives Director at The Consumer Goods Forum, said: “The new HFSS regulations are designed to help shoppers make informed, healthy choices, but it’s essential we work collaboratively as an industry, and across sectors, to help them achieve maximum impact, and utilise available technology and communications methods to avoid creating further confusion for all involved.”

“Our research shows that while retailers are keen to support consumers in making healthy choices, the complexity of impending HFSS regulations represent a real challenge for retailers at both board and store level. We are developing our technology to offer clear assurances and enable collaboration between retailers, consumers and manufacturers. Thoroughly tested and reliable, our platform will ensure that these new HFSS regulations have the desired impact, rather than adding unnecessary bureaucracy for retailers and shoppers alike.

The retail industry is being transformed by technology, and it’s imperative we use new abilities and platforms to help consumers make informed choices about their health, as well as improving our own infrastructure.” Markus Stripf, Co-Founder, Spoon Guru.

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