Knowledge for better food systems

New guidelines published for industry to reduce sugar in everyday food eaten by children

Public Health England(PHE) has published new guidelines setting out the approaches the food industry should take to reduce the net amount of sugar children consume through everyday food. 

The guidance sets out the recommended sugar limits for nine food groups: breakfast cereals, yogurts, biscuits, cakes, morning goods like croissants, puddings, ice creams, lollies and sorbets, confectionery (chocolate and sweet), sweet spreads (sub-categorised into: chocolate spread, peanut butter, dessert toppings and sauces, fruit spreads).

The guidance states that:

  • Guidelines for the sugar levels of food are set for the top nine categories of products that provide sugar to children’s diets (up to the age of 18 years).
  • Soft drinks are covered by the industry sugar levy.
  • All types of sugars are in scope for these categories, with exceptions for the naturally occurring milk sugars in yogurt and an amount of sugar in plain whole dried fruit in breakfast cereals. Broad product categories will be used except for the sweet spreads and sauces category where sub-categories have been introduced due to the disparate range of products included.
  • 2015 baseline levels of sugar in foods have been established using Kantar Worldpanel and nutrition information for manufacturers and retailers, and NPD Crest information for the out of home sector and publically available nutritional information.
  • The 20% total sugar reduction target has been set based on 2015 levels of sugar per 100g in product and calculating an average figure that takes into account the volume of sales.
  • The guidance sets out the clear goal for a sales weighted average for sugar per 100g for each category to be achieved by 2020 and provides a figure against which progress can be monitored.
  • This approach encourages businesses to focus sugar reduction on their top selling products with high levels of sugar.
  •  Sweeteners that have been approved through European Food Safety Authority’s processes are a safe and acceptable alternative to using sugar. It is up to businesses if and how they wish to use them.

After the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition review on fats is completed in 2018, PHE will consider including saturated fat in the programme. Already later this year, PHE will  begin work to scope its approach to calorie reduction, aimed primarily at the food categories not covered by the sugar reduction programme.

Read the full report by PHE here.

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