Kellogg has lost a court battle against UK government plans to restrict retail promotions in England of foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS).
The US-based grain giant launched the case in April against the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). The company claimed that government rules due to be introduced in October to limit the promotion of foods high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) failed to take into account that breakfast cereals are normally served with milk, providing added nutritional value.
At the Royal Courts of Justice in London today (July 4), Judge Linden disagreed as he ruled against Kellogg, who more broadly says he supports the government’s strategy to reduce obesity, especially in children.
Kellogg criticized the Nutrient Profiling Model (NPM) used by the UK, arguing in the case of cereals that “the nutritional content of breakfast cereals should be assessed with milk, not on a dry weight basis” .
The maker of Coco Pops and All-Bran added in a statement provided to just food “that the government did not take this point into account when developing the regulations”.
In the court ruling, Judge Linden said: “The argument that there are nutritional benefits to the consumption of a given breakfast cereal does not affect the fact that if it contains excess fat , sugar or salt, this characteristic of the product is unfavorable to the health of the child. Mixing a breakfast cereal high in sugar, for example, with milk also does not change the fact that it is high in sugar.
Despite today’s verdict, Kellogg says it is making efforts to address cereal-related health issues, noting that the company has cut 11,000 tons of sugar since 2011, including a 50% reduction in Coco Pops.
“Four of our top five selling cereals are non-HFSS and by next year, all of our children’s cereals will be non-HFSS,” Kellogg said in the release. “We will continue to revamp our diet and launch new cereals and snacks to meet the needs of our consumers, for example expanding our range of high fiber non-HFSS wheats in the UK.”
Chris Silcock, managing director of Kellogg in the UK, said he was “disappointed” with today’s decision ahead of the October measures.
Under new regulations in England, retailer promotions on HFSS food and drink will be restricted. Products will not be permitted to be displayed in key locations such as checkouts, store entrances, aisle ends and their online equivalents.
Silcock said: “It makes little sense to us that consumers can buy other products, like donuts and chocolate spreads, on sale – but not many types of breakfast cereals. Although disappointed with this judgment, we respect the decision of the courts and do not intend to appeal. We still believe in the importance of cereals being measured in a way that reflects how most people eat them – with milk.
He added: “We also remain concerned about the manner in which the government has introduced these regulations – which we believe have not been given proper parliamentary scrutiny.
“By restricting the placement of items in supermarkets, people face less choice and potentially higher prices. That’s why, in the midst of a cost of living crisis, we urge the government to rethink these regulations and put the consumer first.
The DHSC weighed in, saying only HFSS breakfast cereals are affected by the restrictions, arguing that obesity is the second leading cause of cancer in the UK, costing the National Health Service ‘billions of pounds a year’ .
A spokesperson said in a statement: “We strongly welcome today’s judgment. The judgment supports the government’s approach to restrict the promotion of less healthy breakfast cereals, which provide a significant amount of sugar in children’s diets.
“The location promotion restrictions will come into effect in October 2022 and are expected to deliver over £57 billion ($69.1 billion) in health benefits. Along with volume pricing restrictions, these changes will protect children across the country from products high in saturated fat, sugar or salt.
Kellogg, meanwhile, criticized the procedures followed before the planned legislation: “Proper legislative process was not followed in developing the regulations, which we believe renders them illegal,” the owner said. of Special K. “The technical guidance element of the regulation should have been scrutinized by Parliament – instead it was implemented without the opportunity to be properly scrutinized.”
Silcock said: “Kellogg has always supported the government’s obesity strategy and is working to tackle obesity. We share the government’s commitment to helping people live healthier lives, as evidenced by our work to reduce sugar and salt in our cereals and provide clear labelling.
“We brought this lawsuit because we believe the formula used to measure the nutritional value of foods is flawed with respect to breakfast cereals, and we believe it is fair to defend what we believe.”