Welcome to the avisso column – an update on nutrition-related subjects that have an impact on public health; be it legislation, innovations in the food industry or trends on the high street. Anything that may shape or influence consumer eating habits will be discussed.
Public Health England announce calorie reduction programme
On 6 March 2018, Public Health England (PHE) released the ‘Calorie reduction: the scope and ambition for action’ report as part of the government’s strategy to cut childhood and adult obesity.
According to PHE, in order for the food industry to meet new targets of 20% calorie reduction by 2024, manufacturers will need to reduce calories across certain categories (including pizzas, ready meals and ready-made sandwiches). Guidelines are being produced and are set to be published next year. The report also references recent figures showing that overweight and obese boys consume anywhere between 140–500 calories too many each day. For overweight and obese girls, the figure is 160–290, while adults currently consume between 200–300 excess calories a day.
PHE have launched two campaigns in relation to this recent publication, including Change 4 Life ‘100 calorie snacks, 2 a day max’ and ‘One You’ campaign, with the aim of helping people be more calorie aware. The latter suggests a daily calorie distribution of 400-600-600 across breakfast, lunch and dinner, respectively. Full details can be found on the PHE website: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou.
Müller venture into lactose-free market
Müller will launch lactose-free yogurts for the first time. This reflects the high consumer demand for lactose-free products. Müller Corner Lactose-Free yogurts will be on sale from May in strawberry and red cherry flavours.
Image from The Grocer online
Kefir availability on the rise
Kefir, a cultured milk drink made with a yeast/bacterial fermentation starter, is now becoming a staple in UK supermarkets, with many of the larger stocking kefir drinks in grab and go sized bottles. M&S, for example, are selling their own brand of kefir in 200ml bottles. Waitrose offer 150g kefir quark yogurt pots made from cow’s milk fermented with live quark and kefir cultures, containing 18g protein per portion and no added sugar, making it an ideal high protein snack.
Inquiry into energy drink consumption in young people launched
Recently, many UK supermarkets have placed a voluntary ban on the sale of energy drinks to those under 16. In March this year The House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee launched an inquiry into the consumption of energy drinks. According to a recent report by EFSA, the UK is currently the biggest consumer of energy drinks in Europe. The report also found that 68% of 10-18 year olds and 18% of 3-10 year olds consume energy drinks, and that, overall, UK consumption rose by 185% between 2006-2015.
The inquiry will be looking at the physical and mental health effects of energy drinks in children and young people, as well as how marketing affects consumption and what further controls/regulations should be in place.
Mars leaves industry-developed food labelling group
Mars has left an industry group of colour-based product labelling, claiming the industry-developed label lacked credibility and transparency.
The Evolved Nutrition Label (ENL) Initiative was launched by six multinational food companies, with Mars as one of the original members. It aims to evolve the current UK colour coding scheme and gives nutritional information per portion (as opposed to per 100g) and gives a colour for individual nutrients such as fat, sugar and salt.
There have been concerns and criticism of the ENL method that portion sizes cited on packaging are unrealistic compared to actual average serving size, potentially misleading consumers. As an example, a recommended portion of Nutella – a product which contains 90% sugar and fat – would have no red lights under the ENL logo.
Mars is now calling for the European Commission to bring in a pan-EU mandatory nutrition label, stating this would reduce complexity and cost to businesses.