Supermarkets rapped for checkout sweets [Audio]

The Iceland Store in New Cross. Photo: Stephanie Davies

A survey of supermarkets across London has named and shamed those judged to be selling ‘junk food’ sweet snacks at check outs and they include iconic high street chains present in all four East London Lines boroughs.

Researchers for the The Children’s Food Campaign surveyed hundreds of checkouts at 48 stores in London and said they found unhealthy snacks at four out of five checkouts in branches of Asdas, Morrisons and Iceland.

The Co-op, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose were also criticised for channelling families into queues surrounded by shelves of sweets and snacks leading to the tills.

The campaign’s media release was headed ‘Asda, Morrisons and Iceland named as “worst offenders” for undermining children’s healthy eating.’

The cover of the Children's Food Campaign Report entitled: 'Checkouts Checked Out.'

The report’s authors stated that they found ‘junk food positioned at children’s eye level, prompting children to pester their parents for sweets, crisps and soft drinks.’

The Campaign for Children’s Health, want  ‘junk to be chucked off the checkouts once and for all.’

The report generated widespread media coverage with headlines in the style of  ‘Sweets at supermarket tills ‘undermine healthy eating.’

We visited the popular Iceland store in New Cross whose manager declined to give a comment on the findings of the survey and asked East London Lines not to take or publish any photographs of their check-out sweet stands. However, we were able to observe chocolate snacks stands in front of their check-outs that were at floor level.

Some of their customers outside were more outspoken about the subject and gave mixed views on the offering of potentially unhealthy snacks available at their local supermarket at low prices.

A number of customers said that on a cold, wet windy day, like many of late, we might all succumb to a comfort binge on junk food. In the words of one satisfied Iceland customer – “I think that the chocolate being very cheap is absolutely fantastic!”

The Children’s Food Campaign researchers said they visited the following stores in and close to ELL boroughs:

ASDA and Tesco  Old Kent Road SE1,  Co-op and Sainsburys Local Old Street EC1, Sainsburys, Mile End E1, Tesco Bow E3, Iceland, Boots, Superdrug, and W H Smiths, in Peckham SE15.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) argue that the industry has a bigger and more positive story to present on promoting healthy eating. Director-General Stephen Robertson recently wrote an article in the Grocer about how supermarkets help keep town centres alive. BRC believes it has made progress in the selling of healthier snacks, promoting fruit and vegetables, and reducing calorie and salt content in popular products.

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