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    Thursday, 23 March 2017

    Sugar Reduction Targets for 2020 Not Possible, FDF Claims

    On September 29th 2016, Public Health England (PHE) launched a new sugar reduction and reformulation programme that tasked those in the industry with reducing the sugar content of food products by 20% by 2020, in a bid to reduce levels of childhood obesity in the UK.

    “All sectors of the food and drinks industry are challenged to reduce overall sugar across a range of products that contribute to children’s sugar intakes by at least 20% by 202, including a 5% reduction in year one,” PHE stated in their announcement of the programme.

    “This can be achieved through reduction of sugar levels in products, reducing portion size or shifting purchasing towards lower sugar alternatives.”

    The range of products stated by PHE to make the greatest contribution to children’s sugar intakes, and by extension the focus of the programme, are as follows:
    • Breakfast cereals
    • Confectionary
    • Ice-cream
    • Yoghurt and fromage frais
    • Morning goods
    • Spreads
    • Biscuits
    • Cakes
    • Puddings
    Despite PHE’s assertion that these targets are achievable, the UK’s Food and Drink Federation (FDF) begs to differ. In a recent article posted to their own website, the FDF claim that, “a 20% sugar reduction by 2020 across all foods covered won't be technically possible or acceptable to UK consumers.”

    They did also state that while the currents targets were unlikely to be met, they would still work with PHE in an effort to reduce the sugar content of products over time.

    “My advice is to tone down the 20 per cent by 2020 stuff and talk about it in terms of a continuous journey,” says Tim Rycroft, Corporate Affairs Director for the FDF, in a conversation with The Times. “It’s more about the direction of travel rather than arbitrary targets.”

    Within their own article, the FDF further emphasised their commitment to reducing sugar levels, albeit at a slower rate than PHE would like, writing:

    “We believe the success of this work will hinge on the level of sustained engagement coming from the entire food industry. That's why the involvement of all players – manufacturers, retailers and out of home operators – is so crucial to securing public support for the level of change we're being asked to make.

    “Responsible companies will work with Public Health England to lower sugars in recipes and, where that isn't technically possible or acceptable to consumers, to lower portion sizes and encourage switching to lower-sugars alternatives.

    “We all have a role to play in giving this process the best chance of success.”

    In stark contrast to the views of the FDF, the Obesity Health Alliance have also thrown their hat into the ring, countering the FDF’s claims with the assertion that targets set by the Government and PHE are very much achievable, as reported by the Daily Mail:

    “Reducing the sugar hidden in everyday foods will help us all have a healthier diet. It is widely supported by the public. The Government has set a very achievable goal.

    “With one in three children overweight or obese we can’t afford to lower our sights. By rising to this, the industry could make a real difference in improving the health of our children and families.”

    Sam Bonson

    Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.
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