A UK-US trade deal will not lead to the UK becoming awash with junk food advertising, according to trade secretary Liz Truss.
Truss told the Conservative party conference today that any deal with the US would not compromise the UK’s food standards or Boris Johnson’s recently unveiled obesity strategy.
Leon co-owner Henry Dimbleby recently claimed that the American-Mexico trade deal led to a spike in “consumption of sugary foods”.
He also spoke at the Tory conference today, saying a UK-US trade deal could lead to “Hershey’s posters are on every bus and every bus stop” in London.
However, Truss denied that this would ever be the case.
“When we are negotiating our trade agreements we are not going to be changing UK food standards, which dictates how much fat there is in baby milk and other rules and regulations,” she said.
In July, Johnson announced a new set of advertising and retail rules in a bid to curb the country’s rates of obesity.
Junk food ads will be banned after 9pm on TV and online, all menus will have to display calories in each meal and two-for-one deals will be banned at supermarkets.
Truss said that any deal with the US would have no effect on the strategy as it would still have to comply with UK regulations.
“These are domestic issues,” she said.
“We need to focus on domestic regulation and how we encourage people to take responsibility for their diet, encourage more people to cook from home, how do we help children grow up understanding food; those are the things that are really going to change our food culture in this country, and I feel it’s a displacement issue going on.”
Truss is in charge of negotiating a trade agreement with the US, with both sides aiming to close a deal by mid-2021.
Some of the most contentious issues in trade talks are around agricultural exports and whether the UK will adopt American food standards.
The US allows producers to engage in practices such as injecting beef with hormones and rinsing chicken with chlorine – both of which the US government insists is safe, but the EU says is not.
There has been opposition to embracing the practices in the UK to get a trade deal, however Truss said the government would not reduce its food standards in any agreement.