Industry slams “absurd” online junk food advertising ban warning it will severely impact COVID recovery

Food retailers and business groups have slammed government plans to impose a blanket ban on “junk food” advertising across all social media and online platforms.

The “absurd” plan was announced during yesterday’s Queen’s Speech as an attempt to crack down on childhood obesity, banning all junk food ads online entirely and on TV before 9pm.

The move has sparked a widespread backlash across the retail and hospitality industry, with businesses warning it could severely hamper their efforts to recover from lengthy lockdown closures.

“If we’re in the realms of a chocolatier being unable to post a picture of their truffles on Instagram, or a local fish and chip shop having images of their cod and chips censored on delivery platforms, then we’re clearly straying into the absurd,” the Federation of Small Businesses said

“Small businesses, including those in the food and drink sector, are working flat out to get back on their feet as Covid restrictions ease.

“Many have only survived the last year or so by showing tremendous innovation in adapting their businesses, to sell and market their products online and via social media.”

READ MORE: Buy Now, Pay Later firms to face tougher advertising restrictions

Leading thinktank the Adam Smith Institute’s Matthew Lesh added: “It will be illegal to advertise online British favourites like fish and chips, Scotch eggs or even a full English breakfast; takeaways would be unable to post images of their food online and descriptive words like ‘delicious’ will be banned.

“Thousands of restaurants, which have been kept alive thanks to online delivery, will no longer be able to advertise online to find new customers, hitting small businesses the hardest.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told The Mirror that the ban will be carried out in a “sensible ad proportionate way”.

According to the Obesity Health Alliance, the ban will see children eat 62 million fewer doughnuts every year.

However, conflicting evidence from campaign groups suggest it could reduce children’s calorific intake by just 1.7 calories per day.

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