A proposed u-turn on the relaxing of rules for the placement of food and drink products in TV programmes in the UK is “disappointing”, advertisers have said.

The Government initially reversed its policy on product placement last September, indicating that it would allow paid placement of branded goods in programmes not targeted at children.

However, in a letter to the Cabinet, as reported by The Guardian last week, Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw proposed that product placement should be banned for food and drink products high in fat, salt and sugar.

The proposal would affect many mainstream brands and mean TV producers will not be allowed to use any branded alcohol or junk food when making programmes.

Ian Twinn, director of public affairs for the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) said that while there is a need for “strict rules”, it doesn’t think an “idiosyncratic ban” is the way to do it.

“[The Government] need to be more thoughtful,” Twinn said. “I suppose we are a little disappointed. If this government does allow [the ban], the only things we are going to be allowed to do are things that don’t upset the prejudices of individual members of the cabinet so it’s very odd.”

Twinn added that stopping the advertising of sugary drinks and foods high in salt, fat and sugar will not be “particularly helpful”.

“We’ve already got strict rules on how those are going to be placed anyway. And they weren’t going to be placed in children’s programmes. Now what we’re saying is, none of these sorts of products can be placed on programmes shown after midnight. Why? Why are we nannying people?”

It is understood that lifting the ban on product placement would have lead to UK broadcasters making annual revenues in the region of GBP25m (US$40.4m) to GBP35m per year after five years, according to Ofcom.

However, Twinn says that advertisers would not stand to loose a lot of money if a ban was put in place.

“We have a system at the moment called prop placement where there are agencies which, for a small fee, will be the intermediary between programme makers and brand owners. And that works quite well and gets products on programmes and it benefits viewers because they see more believable programmes and it benefits the programme makers because they save some money.”

The Government last week declined to comment on the reports but said it was “looking at all responses” in relation to the consultation and “will be making an announcement shortly".