Ss part of the Governments new Obesity Strategy, Public Health England have announced new targets for salt and calorie reduction, in a bid to encourage the food industry to play their part in tackling the country’s health crisis.
The new Salt Reduction Targets follow on from the 2017 targets initially set by the Department of Health, and have been produced for industry to achieve by 2024. These are a continuation of previous targets, with an additional 8 categories (84 in total):
- Ready meal sides and accompaniments
- Savoury popcorn
- Sweet popcorn
- Flavoured nuts
- Chilli sauce
- Other condiments
- Pizza split into 2 categories – pizza with cured meat toppings and pizza with all other toppings
Calorie reduction targets were first consulted on in 2018, so todays publication is welcomed but well overdue. Following on from the consultation process some changes were made, notably to recognise the efforts already made by the retail sector, and bring in line the out of home sector. Key points from the calorie targets, which in many instances cross over with the salt reduction targets, include:
- 20% calorie reduction for meals in the out of home sector
- 10% calorie reduction for childrens meals
- 10% calorie reduction for retailers and manufacturers
- 5% calorie reduction in sandwiches for both retail and out of home
- 5% calorie reduction for crisps and savoury snacks for both retail and out of home
Both reformulation programmes are still voluntary guidelines for the food industry, but Public Health England have committed to progress reports in 2022, 2024 and 2025.
Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of Action on Salt, says: “Reformulation targets are a vital part of the Government’s new obesity strategy, which includes restrictions on promotions and advertising high salt, fat and sugar food and drinks to children before 9pm. Less salty and calorific foods will make it easier for parents to make healthier choices for their families, and they will make it easier for manufacturers to be able to continue to promote their products.
We welcome the latest announcement from PHE on a renewed focus on food reformulation. But despite a lot of ‘ambition’ mentioned within the calorie reduction report, this hasn’t necessarily come through in the proposed targets. What is clear is that these targets have been created with the industry in mind, with many watered down or removed completely, and so we expect no less than 100% achievement by 2024. Rather than waiting until 2024, the quicker manufacturers release their improved products, the quicker we will all see the benefits on our health.
The new targets recognise how far the retail sector has come already compared to the eating out of the home sector. It is vital that restaurants, takeaways and home delivery companies are brought in line with the supermarkets, as they are still an important contributor of salt and excess calories. The out of home sector must play their part in providing us with healthier options if we are to have a healthy recovery from the pandemic.
Given previous experiences with voluntary guidelines, we call on the Government once again to set up an independent watchdog for the management of these programmes, with sanctions or levies if the food industry do not comply.”
UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said:
“The hospitality sector has been supportive and proactive in helping to provide healthier choices and nutritional information for customers. We continue to support the objectives and will never absent ourselves from such well-intentioned pursuits, but the timing of these announcements, with the country still in the grips of a pandemic and hospitality businesses struggling to stay afloat, rather sticks in the craw.
“Never have the burdens threatening the existence of hospitality businesses been more acute – this is not the time to throw petrol on the fire.”