Tony the Tiger

Poor old Tony the Tiger doesn’t make our list of grocery’s most powerful mascots. He’s a victim of the government’s upcoming HFSS clampdown on advertising and promotions. Or he will be unless one of two things happen: a) Kellogg’s is successful in its judicial review against the forthcoming HFSS regs or b) it finds a way to reformulate Frosties.

As things stand, the former seems the more likely given that Frosties is just about the only cereal Kellogg’s has been unable to reformulate, but also due to the anomalies and inadequacies in the nutrient profiling model itself.

Kellogg’s argues that its products should be measured not as sold but as consumed. Adding milk (as is the case 92% of the time) moves the nutritional goalposts such that Frosties would be out of scope, and Tony would be back in business. Trouble is, as the Crunchy Nut commercials said, the 13g of sugar in a typical 35g serving is 68% of a four to six-year-old’s recommended free sugar intake, and 54% of a seven to 10-year old’s. An uncomfortable fact.

But it’s the anomalous drafting of the laws, as devised by the DHSC, that’s the issue here. One that provides scope for significant and justifiable challenges.

Can it be right, for example, that other HFSS breakfast options, notably chocolate spreads and preserves, are out of scope? Why are chocolate-covered nuts in scope while toffee, carob and yoghurt-covered nuts are not? Can it be right that low & no alcohol drinks are in scope, while alcoholic drinks can be promoted with impunity? In a further irony, while 90% of pizzas are HFSS-compliant, it’s the vegetarian options that are causing the biggest problems because of the lack of meat-based protein to offset the high fat, salt and sugar content.

But the ultimate irony is that cheese and chorizo – whose late-night consumption the PM blamed for his near-death Covid experience and led to this regulation – is out of scope. Lobbyists talk about the need to honour the spirit of the law. But the law is the law. It’s there to create a level playing field. Except that, in its current form, it simply doesn’t.