Calorific ambition

Calorific ambition

Later than intended, and weeks after we heard that Public Health England (PHE) is to be abolished, we receive new calorie and salt reduction targets.

The food industry is being urged to “voluntarily” cut calories from some of the nation’s favourite foods to curb the obesity crisis.

The Government is urging the food industry – particularly restaurants and takeaways – to reduce calories in many products. The calories in some foods should be reduced by as much as 20% over the next four years, officials said.

Instead of setting out a single reduction strategy across the sector, officials set out different goals for different food products. People could also be encouraged to switch to low-calorie alternatives or reduce portion sizes, according to PHE.

The new guidance sets out a series of goals including a 20% reduction in calories for meals from restaurants and takeaways – it also sets out suggested calorie limits for different categories of food such as sharing platters or starters.

It also calls for a 10% calorie reduction in children’s “food bundles”, a 10% reduction in ready meals, chips and garlic bread. Crisps, sandwiches and savoury snacks should aim for a 5% calorie reduction.

The food industry has responded to calls to reduce salt and sugar across food categories and will undoubtedly embrace the targets, which have been amended following talks with stakeholders.

The 10% reduction represents a challenge at a time we’re fighting a pandemic, Brexit and low economic returns. The guidelines are the beginning, with a lot more work to be done.

In the end, strides are being made and will have to be. No one wants regulation/legislation to bring everybody into line.

To improve the nation’s health now and in the longer term, all of the food industry must play their role to make the food they produce healthier.

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