CSNA speaks out against proposal to ban meal deals
Donal O’Shea, clinical lead on obesity at the HSE, said on The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk that meal deals should be made illegal
24 May 2022 | 0
The Convenience Stores & Newsagents Association (CSNA) has hit back at the HSE’s suggestion that meal deals should be made illegal, instead believing that shoppers should be able to access good value deals as the cost-of-living rises.
In a report naming Ireland as one of the top ten most obese countries in Europe, the World Health Organisation said 65% of adults here were now either overweight or obese.
In response to these findings, Donal O’Shea, clinical lead on obesity at the HSE, said meal deals sold by retailers consisting of a sandwich, a packet of crisps and a soft drink should be banned.
Discussing the issue on The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk, O’Shea said: “Literally, that [meal deals] should be illegal. The people who are in the supermarkets — the workers in the supermarkets and in the petrol stations — they’re trained to offer that special offer.
“And 70% of people will say no the first time, but if the person behind the counter says, ‘Well are you sure, it’s a good offer’. Then another 30% will say, ‘Ah yeah, go on’.”
However, Vincent Jennings, chief executive of the Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association (CSNA), said O’Shea’s comments were out of touch in a climate when the cost of living has risen considerably.
Jennings said claiming the meals deals should be “illegal” was wrong. “Making something illegal is effectively suggesting that something should be criminalised, and you should be brought to court,” he said. “Offering value to someone is all of a sudden being considered an illegal act. If there is a conversation to be had than surely what he [O’Shea] should have said is, ‘I would like us and the industry to sit down and discuss this’.”
Jennings added that consumers had the knowledge to make an “informed choice” on such matters. “Many of our member service stations across Ireland offer some variation of a meal deal and we believe that consumers are well enough briefed on this issue to realise that there are healthy options available as part of these deals. For example, a lower carb wraps instead of a sandwich, fruit instead of crisps and still or sparkling water instead of a fizzy drink,” he said.
“Consumers have the knowledge to make an informed choice and there are days when people are allowed to treat themselves to the sandwich, crisps, and fizzy drink … especially when people may have done a lot of exercise that day or this may in fact be all they’ve had time to grab, if they are on the road a long period of time.”
The HSE said that it had not raised O’Shea’s proposal with the Department of Health.