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Make food portions less sweet or smaller, health secretary tells restaurant chains

30 September 2016 by
Make food portions less sweet or smaller, health secretary tells restaurant chains

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt told a private meeting of more than 100 food companies including Pizza Express, Starbucks and Gourmet Burger Kitchen to cut the number of calories in their food, according to The Times.

The Times, the focus is on big chains, and companies were threatened with being "named and shamed" if they did nothing.

Public Health England told the meeting, cereals, confectionery, yoghurts, ice-cream, sweet spreads and jams, cakes, biscuits and breakfast foods such as croissants must all become less sweet or smaller. Calorie-cutting targets for fatty foods including burgers and pizzas will also be decided next year and calorie caps for individual products such as chocolate bars or muffins will be introduced.

Hunt said: "Going out to eat is no longer a treat. It's a regular habit for many families and is contributing significantly to the extra calories and sugar that we all consume on a daily basis. We expect the whole of the out-of-home sector - coffee shops, pubs and family restaurants, quick service restaurants, takeaways, cafés, contract caterers and mass catering suppliers - to step up and deliver on sugar reduction."

He added doing nothing is "not an option", warning the Government would publicly compare individual companies' actions.

Organisations including those representing pubs and bars, soft drink manufacturers, retailers and vending machine operators launched the 'Face the Facts, Can the Tax' campaign against the planned sugar levy last month. The levy on soft drinks containing more than 5g of sugar per 100ml is due to come into force in April 2018.

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), which supports the campaign, has responded to the comments; ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "Pubs, bars and restaurants have already made, and continue to make, great effort to provide customers with information to make informed choices on their eating habits out of the home. Many outlets provide information on calorie content and food provenance to ensure that customers understand exactly what they are eating, to help encourage healthy eating habits.

"Additional legislation and levels of bureaucracy at such a politically and economically unstable time is exactly what UK hospitality businesses do not need.

There is also the very real risk that a government database of restaurant pudding sizes, which attempts to name and shame businesses, will have the opposite of the intended effect."

Industry groups and businesses launch campaign against sugar levy >>

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