How will the HFSS legislation affect you? – Bar & Kitchen

How will the HFSS legislation affect you?

HFSS stands for High in Fat, Salt or Sugar and is part of a government initiative to encourage people to make healthier food choices

Hot on the heels of calorie labelling comes new legislation controlling the sale of products such as pizza, chips and soft drinks. Most of these new rules only affect the retail sector, however, some out of home businesses and caterers need to be prepared for the changes coming in October 2022.

The regulations will restrict how food and drink that’s high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) is sold. For example, multibuy offers and free item promotions on prepackaged HFSS products will no longer be allowed from October 2023.  Therefore, if a café that qualifies under the rules, it won’t be able to offer ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ promotions on crisps, chocolate or high sugar soft drinks.


BOGOF deals could be affected by HFSS legislation

The Government definition for out of home venues is:

“The exemption for the out of home sector from the location and volume price restrictions applies to all foods, including pre-packed foods, meaning that if a restaurant sells pre-packed food, this food will not be in scope of these regulations.

“The out of home sector is defined in the regulations as a ‘restaurant’, which states that a ‘restaurant’ means a business whose premises are used mainly for the preparation or sale of food intended for immediate consumption, whether on or off the premises (including a café, coffee shop, fast food or takeaway business).

“A restaurant is out of scope of the location and volume price promotions where its premises are used mainly for the sale and immediate consumption of food, including its seating area.”

UK Government

Fast food restaurants will be affected by HFSS legislation

End of free refills?

The main part of this legislation affecting the out of home sector is the end of free refill promotions on drinks that are HFSS or ‘less healthy’.

Under the new rules, some out of home businesses won’t be able to offer free refill promotions on drinks that are deemed HFSS or ‘less healthy’. This includes soft, milk or juice drinks with more than 4.5g sugar per 100ml (under HFSS guidelines).

The legislation excludes drinks that have an ABV greater than 1.2%, plain water and other drinks with no added sugar, but does include both prepackaged and non-prepacked beverages.



HFSS legislation could it be the end of free drink refills

Businesses affected by HFSS

The restrictions on free refills will apply to any restaurants, out of home businesses or retailers with 50 or more employees. Consumer-operated drinks machines based within qualifying businesses are also subject to these limits, such as coffee or soft drink dispensers in large service stations.

This includes university catered halls, bars and cafes.

Businesses NOT affected by HFSS

Food businesses exempt from HFSS restrictions to free refills include:

  • Small businesses with less than 50 employees.
  • Education institutions that teach children aged under 18.
  • Care homes that serve only to residents and don’t ask for payment per food product.
  • Military establishments, prisons, young offenders’ institutions and hospitals and other institutions that serve only to residents and don’t operate as businesses.
  • Charities that offer food and drink as part of their activities.
Buy 2 get 1 free pizza could end with HFSS legislation

Actions affected businesses need to take

If you’re a qualifying business, then adjusting your offering will help you fall in line with new rules and stop you getting a compliance notice, fine (which can be up to £2,500) or being prosecuted by the local authority.

The best way for out of home businesses to make sure they comply with the new rules is to adjust their free refill promotions to include only low (less than 4.5g per 100ml) or no sugar drinks. With 58% consumers reporting a desire to see more offers on healthier soft drinks, according to a Brita report from 2021, making this change will both keep your business compliant and put it in a stronger position to meet your customers’ needs.

HFSS legislation overview

Free refills of any prepackaged or non-prepacked HFSS or ‘less healthy’ drinks for out of home businesses, restaurants and retailers. For example, a bar that falls under the rules can’t offer free top-ups on drinks that contain more than 4.5g sugar per 100ml.

For more details on the legislation, head to the website.

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