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Advertisers, including supermarkets and food & drink companies, say more time needs to be given for technical consultation on the plans

A ban on ‘junk food’ advertising faces delays after the government gave health secretary Sajid Javid powers to postpone the measures if the time frame for companies proves “unworkable”.

The Grocer revealed last week that food industry and advertising bosses, backed by several Tory peers, were backing amendments to the Health and Care Bill, calling for the ban to be delayed for up to a year.

Whilst that proposal was defeated in the House of Lords on Friday, as well as calls for the bill to have a five-year “sunset clause”, the Lords did back a government amendment which will allow the health secretary to delay the proposed 1 January 2023 start date.

It comes after the industry launched a co-ordinated campaign to argue it needed more time to prepare for the impact of the proposed 9pm watershed for TV ads and ban on online ads for foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS), due to come into force in the new year.

Advertisers, including supermarkets and food & drink companies, claim they do not have adequate details of which products will be affected and say more time needs to be given for technical consultation on the plans.


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Conservative whip Baroness Penn said changes to the bill gave the government “flexibility” on the implementation date should “emerging challenges” prove too difficult, although she said ministers “currently have no plans to delay”.

The move comes amid continuing speculation over a possible backtrack in the government’s obesity strategy, which also includes proposals for a sweeping ban on HFSS in-store promotions, due to come into force in September and which has already been approved by parliament.

The PM is reported to have offered to “look again” at the proposals in meetings with backbenchers.

However, Sajid Javid told The Times the government was still “absolutely committed” to banning junk food promotional deals.

“We are disappointed that there is now a possibility of a delay to the junk food ban but we understand there needs to be adequate time for a technical consultation if the Health and Care Bill is delayed,” said Barbara Crowther, co-ordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign.

“However, we are pleased Sajid Javid has said the government is committed to its obesity strategy despite what is clearly a co-orinated campaign by the food and drink industry to try to get the government to abandon these proposals.

“It would be a horrific u-turn if it was to do so.”

The Grocer is hosting a conference on the HFSS clampdown in March. For more information, visit