safefood asks supermarkets to introduce healthier checkouts

Thursday 13 February, 2014: As part of its campaign to take on childhood obesity, safefood is calling on supermarkets to make checkouts ‘sweet-free zones’ and reduce the amount of unhealthy treats at checkouts and queuing areas. In its latest TV advertisement as part of its childhood obesity campaign, safefood stresses the value of saying ‘no’ to children when they ask for goodies at the supermarket. The message is simple; saying ‘no’ once while doing the shopping is easier than saying no repeatedly at home.

safefood has approached major Irish supermarkets to remove unhealthy snacks from checkouts and queuing areas and Senator Fergal Quinn has lent his support to the call for action.

safefood’s most recent consumer survey[i] in the Republic of Ireland found that 73% of people believe that having sweets and treats at checkouts contributes to obesity. Results included:

  • Almost half of shoppers (47%) in the survey find junk food (e.g. sweets, crisps, chocolate) at shop checkouts hard to resist
  • 32% of shoppers regularly buy junk food on impulse while waiting at the checkout
  • Almost three quarters of those surveyed (73%) believe having junk food at shop checkouts contributes to obesity
  • 29% of Irish shoppers would be more likely to shop at places where junk food at checkouts is banned

Martin Higgins, Chief Executive, safefood explained the decision to contact major supermarkets:

Our childhood obesity campaign is focused on providing parents with advice on practical changes they can make with their families, for example, saying “no” to treats in the supermarket. Facing an array of foods high in fat and sugar at checkouts makes it much more difficult for all consumers, especially those shopping with children, to make healthier choices."

”We have approached CEOs of Aldi Ireland, Dunnes Stores, Lidl Ireland, Musgraves Group and Tesco Ireland to ask them to support the many customers that are trying to make healthy choices when shopping. We hope that supermarkets will support this initiative by introducing ‘sweet-free’ checkouts”, he continued.

Supporting safefood’s request to supermarkets, Independent Senator and founder of the Superquinn supermarket chain, Feargal Quinn, said:

After many years’ experience in this sector, I’m aware of the competitive environment in which food retailers operate. Every supermarket aims to meet their individual customers’ needs but they also have the capability to encourage their customers to make healthier choices. With one in every four children[ii] on the island of Ireland overweight, there is potential for Irish supermarkets to play a role in helping parents to make healthier choices for children.”

safefood’s three year, all island campaign to take on childhood obesity urges parents to make practical changes to everyday lifestyle habits and helping parents manage the issue of treats would make a big difference to their future health. To find out more about the safefood campaign including how-to videos from health experts and practical advice for parents, visit:

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For further information please contact:

WHPR: Muireann Kirby 01 6690142 / 086 3710000

Rachel Ahearne 01 669 0030 / 087 850 5055

safefood: Dermot Moriarty 01 448 0622 / 086 381 1034


[i] Safetrak – safefood/ Millward Brown Lansdowne (November 2013) Survey of 500 adults in the Republic of Ireland

[ii] Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance (IUNA) Nutrition Surveys (2005); (2012)