A crackdown in junk food advertising could deliver another hit to embattled restaurants and further "undermine" the high street, UKHospitality has said.
The industry body has responded to government plans to limit the advertising of products high in fat, sugar and salt. The Department of Health and Social Care has launched a consultation into initiatives aiming to reduce childhood obesity by restricting advertising both online and on television.
One option suggested is to ban advertising between 5.30am and 9pm across both platforms. Alternatives could see a ladder system give more advertising freedoms to companies bringing healthier products to market; or the strengthening of online rules to ban targeted advertising where children account for more than 10% of an audience.
Industry body UKHospitality has said the restrictions would further undermine businesses.
Chief executive Kate Nicholls explained: "Hospitality shares the government's objectives and public concerns about nurturing healthier attitudes to food and drink. The sector has worked proactively with local authorities and Westminster to help tackle obesity. Many of our members have spent time and money reformulating menus, diversifying their offer and providing nutritional transparency.
"The sector's landscape changes quickly, and the customer experience is hugely different to the one it was five or ten years ago, with a greater choice of exciting and healthy food and drink. Furthermore, for the vast majority of our customers, eating out remains an occasional treat and any measures should reflect that.
"British high streets have been hit hard in recent years, by a mix of rising costs and changing consumer trends and, of course, Brexit uncertainties. Hospitality venues are vital the social lives of towns and cities and provide huge economic benefits. Preventing them from advertising would undermine high streets further."Get The Caterer every week on your smartphone, tablet, or even in good old-fashioned hard copy (or all three!).