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Picture: UNSPLASH/YUSUF EVLI
Picture: UNSPLASH/YUSUF EVLI

London — Britain’s decision to further delay rules banning multi-buy deals on food and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) has dismayed health campaigners, who say it will not help struggling families save money.

The UK government said on Saturday that rules banning multi-buy deals on HFSS foods and drinks, including buy-one-get-one-free deals, will be delayed until October 2025.

The policy had already been delayed until October 2023. The government will continue to review the effect of the restrictions on consumers and businesses.

“I firmly believe in people’s right to choose — and at a time when household budgets are under continuing pressure from the global rise in food prices, it is not fair for government to restrict the options available to consumers on their weekly shop,” UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement.

Britons, worn down by a cost-of-living crisis into its second year, are facing food inflation of more than 19%, according to the most recent official data.

John Maingay, director of policy at the British Heart Foundation, said multi-buy deals lead to people spending more money and eating more junk food.

“The government has said itself in recent weeks how important it is to drive down our high obesity rates — but it won’t achieve this unless it follows its own evidence and implements its own policies,” he said.

Katharine Jenner, director of the Obesity Health Alliance, said the latest delay would widen health inequalities.

Most major supermarkets have moved away from multibuy deals in recent years, aiming instead to keep prices on key products low by matching those available at discount groups Aldi or Lidl, and via promotions on loyalty cards.

The government said it remained committed to cutting hospital waiting lists by tackling obesity, which costs the national health service (NHS) about £6.5bn a year.

Reuters

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