Online junk food advert ban will batter our chippies – but won't beat obesity

BRITISH chippies are at risk of going under if the Government presses ahead with plans for an online ban on junk food adverts.

Groups including The Nationwide Caterers Association, The British Take- away Campaign and The National Federation of Fish Friers, representing tens of thousands of takeaways, are now joining forces to beg ministers not to ban them from advertising online.

As Ibrahim Dogus, Chair of the British Takeaway Campaign, says: “This ban could put lots of restaurants out of business, which would put thousands of jobs at risk.

“It’s anti-business and will only hurt the little guys.”

Losing our beloved chippies — 10,500 in Britain — would be a catastrophe.

We’re talking about a British institution here, first mentioned, as far as I can tell, in Charles Dickens’ 1838 novel, Oliver Twist.

It’s a dish that came together on the streets of Victorian London, amalgamating the produce of Jewish fish sellers and Irish potato sellers.

The majority of local chippies are family-owned and run by people who have spent years building up their businesses.

They don’t have the kind of budgets McDonald’s and Burger King have, they can’t afford to run big poster campaigns or pay for TV advertising.

So they rely on social media to promote themselves to their communities.

As Mr Dogus says: “Social media is their shop window.”

Such a ban would hit smaller businesses hard, while the big chains would not be affected at all.


If you are going to ban unhealthy food, it has to be all or nothing.

Ban it everywhere, for everyone, if you must, but don’t pick on the little guys.

It’s not fair.

I don’t have a problem with unhealthy food.

Not all food is supposed to be healthy.

You know when you go to your local chippy that you’re not ordering a healthy meal, you can see it frying in fat in front of you.

Under the proposed new laws, firms would be banned from advertising unhealthy, high-fat, high-salt or high-sugar goods on social media.

So would this include your posh sandwich shops?

I have a bigger problem with them than chippies when they pretend they’re serving healthy food.


Every time the Government looks at unhealthy food it picks on working-class staples.

Why don’t they go and pick on the middle-class stuff?

What’s more, Whitehall research has shown that an online junk food ban would have almost no effect on obesity levels.

It found that it would cut a child’s calorie intake by just 700 calories a year, the equivalent of four packets of crisps, yet the ban could potentially cost businesses tens of millions of pounds.

So what’s the point?

If we want to look at tackling obesity, this is not the way forward.

We need to put money into food education.

I know from presenting BBC One’s Eat Well For Less for eight years that people don’t know how to cook any more.

It’s not about lazy parenting, it’s because those skills haven’t been passed down.

Get cookery lessons back into schools.


If you set aside an hour a week to teach kids from the age of five to 16, that’s a lot of cookery time.

Look at our grandparents and great-grandparents.

They ate fish and chips and their generations didn’t have an obesity problem.

They ate it as a treat and the rest of the time they cooked meals at home from scratch.

I’ve lost four-and-a-half stone and I still eat takeaways once a week, because the rest of the time I cook healthy meals.

I love fish and chips.

Pile on the mushy peas and loads of salt and vinegar to cut through the grease and there’s nothing better.

Trying to stop people from the occasional trip to the chippy is not the way to solve the obesity problem and will only put people out of work.

Takeaways contribute £7billion to the economy every year.

During the pandemic, we’ve indulged in more takeaways than ever.

Just Eat’s profits soared by 54 per cent last year.

With restrictions easing and restaurants opening up, I hope we don’t forget about our local takeaways.

They are part of our communities.

Support your local chippy.

They are small businesses that are unique to your town or village and nearly always family run.

Go to them twice a month or so, just remember it’s an occasional treat.

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