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UK food industry fails to achieve PHE’s 5% sugar reduction target

FBR Staff Writer Published 23 May 2018

The UK food industry has fallen short of the 5% target of sugar reduction across food products set by Public Health England (PHE) in the first year of its 4-year sugar reduction program.

According to a report unveiled by the executive agency of the UK's Department of Health, food manufacturers in the country could achieve a 2% reduction in average sugar content and calories in food products that are likely to be consumed in one go.

In March 2017, PHE had published certain guidelines for the food industry to reduce sugar content in their products, in a move to tackle the prevailing problem of child obesity.

The agency challenged food manufacturers to come up with 20% sugar reduction by 2020.

Despite not able to hit the 5% mark in the first year, PHE is optimistic of the initiative, claiming that there are more sugar reduction plans in the pipeline that will be rolled out by the food industry.

It also said that some changes done to food products were not recorded in the data as they came into effect only after the first year cut-off point.

PHE CEO Duncan Selbie said: “We have seen some of the food industry make good progress, and they should be commended for this. We also know that further progress is in the pipeline.

“However, tackling the obesity crisis needs the whole food industry to step up, in particular, those businesses that have as yet taken little or no action.”

PHE had suggested three approaches for the food industry to reach their sugar reduction targets which includes reformulation of products with lesser sugar content, reduction of portion size and promoting awareness in consumers to buy lower or zero-sugar content products.

The agency said that it had measured the progress of the sugar reduction initiative across eight food categories and found that five of them had seen reduction in sugar content.

It said that yoghurts and fromage frais, breakfast cereals, and sweet spreads and sauces have all achieved or surpassed the initial 5% sugar reduction target.

PHE, while launching its guidelines last year, said that its sugar reduction initiative if executed successfully could result in taking off 200,000 tonnes of sugar from the UK food products annually by 2020.


Image: The UK food industry could reduce sugar content across its products by 2% during the first year of the 4-year sugar reduction program. Photo: courtesy of Crown copyright.