The Daily Telegraph - Business
Small businesses to be exempt from ban on junk food advertising
SMALL businesses will be exempt from a ban on junk food advertising under plans to be revealed by ministers today.
As part of Boris Johnson’s efforts to tackle obesity, the Government will introduce a ban on unhealthy food adverts online and before the 9pm television watershed. Whitehall sources confirmed last night that ministers are pushing ahead with the measures, which were outlined in the Queen’s Speech in May.
However, they said that the online restrictions would stop short of a “total ban”, as it would only apply to paid-for advertising. Small businesses will also be exempt from the online and television ban. It is expected that the Government will set out in more detail which products will be in scope for the ban.
It follows concerns earlier this year that small high street restaurants, cafes and bakeries could be caught up in the new online restrictions and prevented from drumming up business by posting images of products such as cakes and pastries on their social media accounts.
Christopher Snowdon of the Institute of Economic Affairs said: “With its new exemptions, the Government has acknowledged that banning adverts for normal, everyday food products would stifle competition, hurt businesses and be bad for consumers. It should now throw in the towel and accept that advertising jam, sandwiches and olive oil should not be a criminal act under any circumstance, regardless of how many people the company employs.”
At present a formula based on sugar, salt and fat content determines which foods cannot be advertised during children’s television. The Advertising Standards Authority is expected to enforce the new restrictions, with companies which flout the rules ordered to take down adverts and potentially incurring sanctions if they offend repeatedly.
The Daily Telegraph understands that a number of industry figures were called in for meetings yesterday to discuss the changes, expected later this year.