Recent industry action in response to public health noise

Recent industry action in response to public health noise

In recent weeks, there has been a number of statements, commitments and pledges from key players within the food and beverage industry. This is in response to continued pressure from the public health community, advocating for healthier products and environments for consumers, which play an important role in the fight against the obesity epidemic. Below is summary of recent news headlines on statements from the food industry, details and what the pledges hope to achieve:

The Food Navigator: “Nestle to add traffic light label to all UK breakfast cereals” 3/10/2017

As of October 2017, Nestle will now display UK Government’s traffic light labelling system on the front of all its breakfast cereal packaging. Displaying this type of nutritional labelling on the front of packaging will help provide consumers with clear, easy to read and understand information about the nutritional quality of that product whilst out shopping.

The Evening Standard: “Pizza Hut and TGI Friday’s scrap free fizzy refills in a bid to cut childhood obesity” 11/10/2017

In response to the Soil Association’s ‘Out to Lunch’ league table ranking children’s food in the 25 most popular restaurants in the UK, two of the lowest scoring restaurants Pizza Hut and TGI Friday’s have announced they will scrap unlimited free refills of soft drinks in their restaurants by March 2018. Soft drinks are the greatest contributor to excessive added sugar intake in children, which is said to be contributing towards overweight and obesity in children. In addition, the chains also announced calorie information will soon be available on menu’s to help provide the information for consumers to make informed, healthier choices when eating out.

Also in response to the Out to Lunch league table, Harvester, Café Rouge and TGI Fridays have also committed to offering healthier deserts on menus, given the league table found one pudding to contain 78g per serving – 400% more added sugar than a child’s recommended daily intake.

Waitrose Media Centre: “Waitrose lowers sugar across many family favourite deserts” 13/10/2017

Fifteen own-label mid-tier chilled desserts have seen the average sugar content lowered by 14 per cent – the equivalent of more than 38 tonnes or 9.6 million teaspoons of sugar per year. According to the manufacturers, consumers are highly unlikely to notice the difference as there is no compromise on taste, texture or price. The move is part of a wider sugar reduction programme at Waitrose in a bid to reduce the amount of sugar on their shelves and consumed by their customers.

Food Manufacturer: “Sainsburys calls for standardised portion sizes” 16/10.2017

Director of brand at Sainsburys has called for the Government to take action on the wide variation of portion sizes across the food and beverage retail environment. At British Nutrition Foundation’s event earlier this month, Sainsburys called for standardised portion sizes to prevent excessive portion sizes which are contributing towards excessive calorie intake and weight gain.

Lead Association for Catering in Education: “Industry backs ‘Pledge more Veg’ campaign to help drive consumption” 24/10/2017

The Food Foundation held the Vegetable Summit across 3 locations in the UK which provided the opportunity for industry to pledge to increase the amount of vegetables in prepared foods. An important move, considering recent Think Tank data which found vegetables only contribute to 7.2% of food purchased, compared to the 20% equivalent to government dietary recommendations. A number of key players in the food industry committed to pledges at the event:

  • Greggs have pledged to sell 15 million portions of veg between January 2018 and October 2020 by including at least one portion in its soup, leaf-based salads and 50% of cold sandwich range will include half a portion of vegetable.
  • Mars Food will offer staff a healthy meal option, always including two portions of veg.
  • CO-OP will include a weekly feature on veg on social media and advertise one seasonal veg in its monthly magazine.
  • Lidl will expand its Oaklands fun-size fruit and vegetable range for children, aiming to make vegetables more accessible and appealing to children and commits to include at least 1 portion of veg in every ready meal.
  • Tesco pledges to ensure all lunchtime meal deals include at least two vegetable side options.

It is encouraging to see such actions and positive cooperation from industry, however there is still a long way to go in the fight against obesity and obesogenic environments. The public health community must continue to keep up the pressure on industry and policymakers to push for a healthier food environment for all.

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