Ham is the latest thing to give you cancer, I read this morning.

The World Cancer Research Fund has said that parents should act now to stop their children developing a taste for smoked, salted or cured meats, as eating too much can raise the risk of bowel cancer in later life.

Now I’m sure that top officials from the cured and cooked meat trade (The Salami Circle?) are working hard to limit the potential damage that such a public statement could cause their industry, but how should retailers deal with it?

In an average convenience store, most products could be classed as bad for you if you choose to look at them that way. It’s quite possible that tobacco will soon have to be stored behind a barrier, because apparently the sight of a pack of fags on a gantry is insipring a new generation to smoke (ignoring the fact that youth smoking is, in fact, falling).

Other campaigners have also remarked that confectionery should not be kept at the checkout, because it encourages children to demand it on impulse. Similarly, lads mags have been attacked because youngsters can see their covers in store – in other words, every branch of the CTN-based industry is under attack from do-gooders terrified about the effect it has on children. And once the attack on tobacco displays is completed, alcohol can expect the same treatment, so there’s no salvation in switching to an off-licence business either. And that’s without mentioning the severe and far-reaching penalties for failing a test purchase.

The latest news, which says children are susceptible to cured meat, shows that even offering fresh, chilled and often locally-produced food such as ham will not save you from the grocery police.

We will soon be at the point where it will be cheaper and easier to exclude children from stores altogether than to take all the measures necessary to ‘protect’ them once they are inside. Just think – if you made it a policy to not allow anyone aged under 18 on the premises then you should be able to do what you want with tobacco, alcohol and other displays, and never face the worry of failing a test purchase again.
Either that or buy an enormous counter, and keep your entire stock underneath it, out of sight.