Government finally publishes detailed guidance on HFSS regulations

Retailers had previously reported concerns regarding lack of clarification over upcoming HFSS regulations

The Department of Health and Social Care has published detailed guidance outlining the upcoming high, fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) regulations coming into force in October.

The guidance offers clarity regarding some of the points around the implementation of the regulation, offering more information regarding the way that enforcement officers will ensure rules are being followed.

OPINION: HFSS will affect us all – Alan Mannings, Shop on the Green

As a result of the initial consultation for this policy, the government decided that the restrictions will apply to franchises or arrangements (like symbol groups) where multiple businesses operate under the same name.

For the purpose of determining how many employees a business has, and therefore whether the regulations apply, a franchise agreement is to be treated as part of the business of the franchisor and not as a separate business carried on by the franchisee.

Key points mentioned

  • Products that include volume promotions on their packaging that cannot be removed will be subject to a sell through period of 12 months to October 2023
  • The number of employees that a business has in its entirety, not just the number of employees in England, should be used to decide whether the business is in scope of the regulations. Businesses that have fewer than 50 employees are exempt (subject to symbol/franchise definitions)
  • There is more information about what constitutes a ‘relevant special offer’ such as a meal deal, or dine in for 2 promotion, although the guidance states that each individual case will be assessed by enforcement officers
  • Vending machines that are operated by a separate business are not subject to location restrictions, although DHSC encourages retailers not to put vending machines selling HFSS products in otherwise restricted areas of their stores

The guidance also sets out what retailers should do if approached by an enforcement officer

Government may delay HFSS legislation

Information to mention

  • Whether their store is part of a business with more than 50 employees
  • If relevant floor area of the store is less than 2,000 square feet
  • Are there products that are part of the food in scope categories in a restricted volume price or location promotion in store
  • If there are products in these categories on volume price or location promotions, how you have ensured that these are not HFSS or ‘less healthy’ as defined by the NPM score

Earlier this month, the ACS wrote to prime minister Boris Johnson calling for a review of the law, in return for more clarity to help stores prepare for the new legislation. 

Read more HFSS news and advice for retailers


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