Restricting promotions of food and drink high in fat, sugar or salt - proposed regulations: consultation

This consultation seeks views on the detail of proposed regulations to restrict the promotions of foods high in fat, sugar or salt where they are sold to the public. The consultation closes on 21 May 2024. If you are unable to respond by then, please contact us and send your completed respondent information form (see supporting documents) to Responses received up to 28 May will be accepted and included in the analysis of this consultation.

Section 1: Foods subject to restriction

25. In our 2022 consultation, we sought views on the food[3] categories that would be subject to promotions restrictions in Scotland. We also sought views on targeting pre-packed foods and applying a nutrient profiling[4] approach to identify high fat, sugar or salt (HFSS) foods.

26. Overall, non-industry respondents indicated support for expanding the food categories within scope of restrictions beyond discretionary[5] to support a more comprehensive approach. Industry respondents tended to favour alignment with promotions restrictions for England, as set out in the Food (Promotion and Placement) (England) Regulations 2021, on the basis that it would help to minimise regulatory and business burden. Individual views were mixed.

27. Overall, respondents supported the use of nutrient profiling to identify HFSS foods within targeted categories although views were mixed on targeting pre-packed foods only. Industry respondents tended to support targeting pre-packed foods on the basis that the approach would align with England. Non-industry tended to disagree with targeting pre-packed foods only, primarily due to concerns that it would create loopholes that could undermine the overall effectiveness of the policy.

28. A more detailed breakdown of the feedback is available in section 3 of the independent analysis report of the consultation, published in May 2023.

Food categories

29. Following careful consideration of the feedback received, we propose that the food categories[6] within scope of promotions restrictions are:

Soft drinks with added sugar (including soft drinks such as cola or lemonade, as well as juice based and milk based drinks with added sugar, fruit juices and smoothies with added sugar).

Savoury snacks (including crisps, corn puffs, tortilla chips, savoury crackers or rice cakes such as pretzels, papadums, salted popcorn and prawn crackers).

Breakfast cereals (including ready-to-eat cereals, granola, muesli, porridge oats and other oat-based cereals).

Confectionery (including chocolates and sweets).

Ice cream, ice lollies, frozen yogurt, water ices and similar frozen products.

Cakes and cupcakes (including swiss rolls, tray bakes and cake bars).

Sweet biscuits and bars based on one or more of nuts, seeds or cereal.

Morning goods (including croissants, pains au chocolat and similar pastries, crumpets, pancakes, buns, teacakes, scones, waffles, Danish pastries and fruit loaves).

Desserts and puddings (including pies, tarts and flans, cheesecake, gateaux, dairy desserts, sponge puddings, rice pudding, crumbles, fruit fillings, powdered desserts, custards, jellies and meringues).

Sweetened yoghurt and fromage frais


Roast potatoes, chips and other similar potato products

Ready meals (including ready to cook or reheat meals intended to be consumed as a complete meal, or meal centres[7], such as ready to heat stews, curries, bolognese or pies, in addition to breaded or battered vegetable, meat, fish or poultry products.)

30. As detailed in our 2022 consultation paper at paragraphs 48 and 64, these food categories are significant contributors of calories, fat and sugar to the Scottish diet, and are the food categories of 'most concern to childhood obesity' as described in the UK-wide reformulation programmes. Targeting these categories supports our aim to reduce the public health harms associated with excess consumption of calories, fats, sugar and salt.

31. Our proposed approach is consistent with the food categories within scope of the regulations for England and with the Welsh Government's proposed approach, as set out in its consultation.

Defining food categories

32. We propose to be consistent with the food category descriptors set out in Schedule 1 of the UK Government regulations for England (see Annex D) as far as possible. On a practical level, we recognise that consistency across the UK in respect of both the food categories within scope of regulations and category descriptors will help to minimise the regulatory burden on businesses, particularly those working across England, Wales and Scotland.

33. In addition to seeking views through this consultation, we will continue to engage with stakeholders as appropriate to inform final category descriptors and to support the timely development of guidance materials which are comprehensive to support effective implementation and enforcement in Scotland.

Identifying food and drink products within scope of restrictions

34. Within targeted food categories, we propose that promotions restrictions will only apply to pre-packed[8] food and drink products that are high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS) as defined by the 2004/05 nutrient profiling[9] model (NPM). This was discussed in detail in our 2022 consultation at paragraphs 68-74.

35. This approach is consistent with the equivalent regulations for England. The 2004/05 NPM is a recognised, evidence based tool which is well-understood by the food industry. Applying a NPM approach will allow products within food categories that are non-HFSS to be identified, for example sugar free sweets.

36. Whilst feedback in response to the 2022 consultation on targeting pre-packed foods was mixed (see paragraphs 3.28-3.35 of our consultation analysis report), applying a NPM to targeted foods requires availability of information on a product's composition. We therefore remain of the view that targeting pre-packed items is currently the most feasible approach to ensure that the information required to apply a NPM is more often readily available[10] which in turn will support implementation of the policy.

37. It is proposed that non-pre-packed products, such as loose bakery items, will be out of scope of the policy at this time because businesses may not be able to determine whether these products can or cannot be promoted due to relevant nutritional information not being available.

38. There will be an exception in respect of unlimited refills of soft drinks for a fixed charge, where non-pre-packed soft drinks with added sugar that are HFSS or 'less healthy' (as defined by the NPM) will be in scope of the policy. Further detail on our proposals in respect of unlimited refills is set out at paragraphs 51-53 of this consultation.


Question 1 - Do you agree with the proposal to be consistent with the category descriptors set out in Schedule 1 of the UK Government regulations for England?



Don't know

Please explain your answer.

Question 2 - Do the food category descriptors set out in Schedule 1 [and included in Annex D] sufficiently describe the food categories within scope of regulations?



Don't know

Please explain your answer.

Question 3 - Please provide any additional comments on the proposed approach to foods in scope of the policy?




Back to top