UK: Food industry defends record on health
By Chris Mercer | 22 January 2013
The Food & Drink Federation has released a report praising achievements by the industry to cut salt, fat and sugar from products, as its Responsibility Deal with government comes under renewed pressure.
There has been an average 10% cut in salt levels in foods produced by Food & Drink Federation (FDF) members since 2008, said the trade body today (22 January), citing commissioned Kantar data.
The figure is published in the FDF's Delivering Healthy Growth report, which will be discussed at a conference to be attended by public health minister Anna Soubry later today.
Food producers and retailers have been under fresh pressure in early 2013 to show that they are taking serious steps to cut fat, salt and sugar from foods, as well as to improve healthy options for consumers.
Labour, the UK's main opposition party, has called for legal limits on sugar, fat and salt in foods marketed to children, based on OECD figures showing that 26.6% of UK girls and 22.7% of boys are considered overweight or obese.
For now, the Conservative-led Coalition Government is opposed to regulation and the Department of Health has said that it is satisfied with progress made under the current Responsibility Deal with industry, a voluntary initiative that encourages firms to sign up to pledges.
Soubry will announce a further eight signatories to the Deal at the FDF conference today, taking the total to 31.
However, salt reduction is currently under review by the Responsibility Deal steering committee, with some products having failed to meet 2012 targets.
Health minister Jeremy Hunt has also warned the industry to do more, albeit without outlining specific goals or detailing the consequences of not doing so.
"We are seeing real, measurable results," said PepsiCo UK and Ireland president Richard Evans. "UK food and drink manufacturers are acutely aware of their responsibilities – to their customers and employees, and to the environment around them," said Evans, who also chairs the FDF health and wellbeing group.
Check back for just-food's coverage from today's FDF conference
FDF REPORT SHOWS SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS IN VOLUNTARY INDUSTRY ACTION
ON PUBLIC HEALTH
Embargoed for Tuesday 22 January 2013 23:30
The progress the food industry has made in empowering consumers to make healthier choices has been revealed today in a new report, Delivering Healthy Growth1. The report, launched by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF)2, showcases a broad package of industry action; ranging from cutting edge processes that enable recipes to be changed to reduce salt, saturated fat and energy density, to workplace wellbeing3 schemes that work to improve the health of thousands of industry employees. New figures from FDF also show that over the last five years, as a result of such industry changes, there has been a 10% reduction in salt levels in FDF members’ products compared with 2008.4
Richard Evans, President of PepsiCo UK & Ireland and FDF Health and Wellbeing Chair, said: “UK food and drink manufacturers are acutely aware of their responsibilities – to their customers and employees, and to the environment around them. FDF’s new report demonstrates manufacturers’ on-going commitment to working both independently and in partnership with other stakeholders towards improved public health. We are seeing real, measurable results, such as a 10% reduction in the salt levels of products made by FDF’s members when compared to 2008.”
Speaking at today’s launch event, Health Minister Anna Soubry MP announced a further eight signatories to the Responsibility Deal’s calorie reduction pledge to help consumers reduce their calorie intake.5 These companies will join the existing 23 signatories, with manufacturers accounting for the largest group of industry participants.6
Melanie Leech, Director General at FDF, said:
“Today’s announcement of a further wave of calorie reduction pledge signatories demonstrates the on-going voluntary commitment by the industry to improving public health. Our members were in the vanguard of calorie reduction signatories last year and I am delighted to see manufacturers again at the heart of today’s announcement.’
Note to Editors:
- The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) is the voice of the food and drink manufacturing industry – the UK's largest manufacturing sector. For more information about FDF and the industry we represent visit: www.fdf.org.uk
3. In workplace wellbeing, FDF celebrates the success of its toolkit for employers, launched last year, which has been received by just under 3,500 individuals from both the public and private sector. Link to Workplace Wellbeing report
4. Kantar data compiled for FDF, January 2013
6. Under the Public Health Responsibility Deal 31 FDF member companies have pledges around the non-use of artificial trans-fats, salt reduction and calories, in addition to those to encourage greater physical activity and health at work.
Original source: http://www.fdf.org.uk/
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UK: Food industry defends record on health