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June 26, 2014

UK: Industry pledges calorie cap on confectionery

Food companies operating in the UK have announced they will cap the level of calories in confectionery on the day government advisers will publish a report on the impact of sugar on obesity.

By Dean Best

Food companies operating in the UK have announced they will cap the level of calories in confectionery on the day government advisers will publish a report on the impact of sugar on obesity.

UK industry body The Food and Drink Federation said its members would place a 250kcal limit on “shop-bought single-serve confectionery”. The cuts will be done by spring 2016.

Later this morning, the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) will publish its draft report on carbohydrates and health.

Sugar – and the debate around what impact it has on health and obesity – has been in the spotlight in the UK since the turn of the year.

The focus on the ingredient has heightened in recent days. On Sunday, UK-based campaign group Action on Sugar published a seven-point “plan” to tackle child obesity, which included calls for a tax on sugar and a reduction in added sugar in processed food.

At an event in London yesterday, Professor Susan Jebb, chair of the voluntary industry-government initiative the Public Health Responsibility Deal (PHRD) argued new policy options on sugar should be explored, including taxation.

The PHRD includes specific pledges on to reduce salt and saturated fat but has so far made no commitment on sugar, instead preferring to focus on calories.

Speaking to just-food this morning, a spokesperson for the FDF said the calorie cap on confectionery was a “substantial commitment”.

However, the spokesperson insisted the industry would continue to focus on calorie reduction, rather than cutting sugar per se.

“We’re focusing on calories and I’m almost certain that will result in sugar reductions,” the spokesperson said.

He added one ingredient should not be “demonised” in the debate over obesity, which he argued was a “multi-faceted and complex issue”. 

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