Fresh food aisle

Scottish government wants cheese consigned to top shelf

Supermarket bosses and suppliers have walked out of talks with the Scottish government over plans for a radical clampdown on in-store display and marketing of foods high in fat, salt or sugar.

After the dramatic move - which they said was to prevent a dangerous precedent of government control being set - the BRC, FDF, Advertising Association and British soft drinks Association branded the plans “prescriptive and unworkable”.

The British Standards Institution had been asked by the Scottish government to “fast-track” a voluntary code, via a Publicly Available Specification (PAS), as part of wider moves to tackle obesity.

But after talks last month, the industry bodies this week said it would harm suppliers, impose too much red tape on stores and could force up food prices.

Plans included a voluntary ban on the display of HFSS foods front of store and restrictions on the percentage of such foods at eye level or below on shelf, with some products, including cheeses and sausages, banished to the top shelf. Multibuy promos would have been forced to include individual product wrappings.

Sources said the PAS was based on “evidence that was sketchy at best”, but insisted they would still work with the government on wider plans.

”Retailers offer consumers a huge choice in-store for a healthy, affordable diet and we want to work more on promoting healthier choices with the Scottish government but the PAS is simply too prescriptive and unworkable,” said BRC director of food Andrew Opie.

FDF director of communications Terry Jones added: “Food and drink manufacturers follow strict codes on advertising and marketing. There is no evidence to show that the prescriptive approach suggested would have a positive impact on public health.”