Government urged to consult with hospitality on legislation to tackle obesity

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Government urged to consult with hospitality businesses on legislation to tackle obesity

Related tags Obesity Government Advertising

The Government has been urged to undertake 'close and meaningful consultation' with hospitality businesses over legislation to tackle obesity in the UK.

In today's (11 May) Queen's Speech, Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out his vision for the UK's post-Covid recovery, which included bringing forward measures 'to support the health and wellbeing of the nation, including to tackle obesity' under the new Health and Care Bill.

They are set to include a crackdown on food advertising from April 2022, with a blanket ban on foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) being advertised on TV before 9pm and a total ban on online adverts.

As was previously outlined by the Government last year, the new laws will also force restaurants, pubs, cafes and takeaways with more than 250 employees to add calorie labels to menus; and free refills of sugary soft drinks will be prohibited across the eating-out sector.

However, plans to force any pub business with 250 or more employees to publish the calorie information about all beer, wine and spirit served in their bars, appear to have been dropped.

Responding to the developments, trade body UKHospitality said the sector shares the Government’s objectives in tackling obesity, but called for for full consultation on any new measures to ensure businesses aren't saddled with unnecessary red tape.

“The last thing the sector needs after prolonged periods of closure and trading restrictions is unnecessary red tape," said Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality. 

"The majority of operators are in survival mode and their recovery will take many, many months, so creating additional burdens is hugely unhelpful.

"Hospitality businesses share the Government’s objectives in tackling obesity and improving public health, but at a time of huge economic uncertainty these new rules must strike a balance and be proportionate.

"Layering on new costs for businesses in a sector that has been hardest hit by the pandemic risks prolonging their recovery and business’ ability to invest and create jobs.

"We urge the Government to consult meaningfully with the sector via the new Office for Health Promotion on any measures that are included in the Bill.”

Elsewhere, the trade body was welcoming of the Prime Minister's promise to focus on jobs, skills and training as the country recovers from the impact of the pandemic.

Nicholls said: “The overall theme of jobs, business and economic growth is absolutely appropriate for where the country finds itself, on the way out of the pandemic crisis.

"It highlights the need for hospitality to be at the centre of our national revival, a role in which history has shown the sector capable of driving growth and employment.

"Hospitality wants to trade its way back to prosperity and, in doing so, can represent a great return on the investment that the Government has made to support it.”

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