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    Minister dismisses ‘nanny state’ calls for plain packaging of breakfast items

    REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

    A health minister has dismissed “nanny state” calls to put cereals high in sugar into more plain packaging after a UK health group asked breakfast cereals and yoghurts containing high amounts of sugar to remove any packaging that appeals to children.

    Stating that he is not a fan of “nanny state” interventions, such as changing the packaging, Will Quince said more emphasis should be placed on educating parents.

     “I’m not in favour of those kinds of nanny state interventions because as a parent, it’s my responsibility to educate my child as to what is and isn’t appropriate for daily consumption and as a treat,” Quince told Times Radio.

    “I like Krave cereal as much as the next person… it’s very nice, but would I have it every day? No, because I know the implications of that. I want to educate my children about that. So what it means is we need to empower people to make healthier life choices.”

    Quince said plain packaging for the products was “certainly a step too far” as they were enjoyable when had in moderation, and should be had “every now and then as a treat”.

    According to the scientific research group – named Action on Sugar – 47 per cent of cereals and 65 per cent of yogurts contained a third of the maximum sugar recommendation for a four to six-year-old per 100g. The group is calling for the removal of such packaging on products graded as high or medium for sugars, salt or saturated fat, based on the Department for Health’s nutrition guidelines.

    Of these, products by supermarket chains Lidl, Aldi and Nestle had the highest average sugar levels with packaging targeted at children, states the study. The packaging also includes cartoon characters, animations and colours intentionally designed to attract the attention of a child.

    By contrast, healthier products tend to be sold in more plain packaging targeted towards adults.

     “It’s ludicrous that whilst breakfast cereals and yogurts celebrate the largest reductions in sugars during the Sugar Reduction Programme, those same products with child-appealing packaging still have excessive amounts of sugars, unsuitable for regular intake by children,” reports quoted Campaign lead at Action on Sugar, Dr Kawther Hashem, as saying.

    “Given the soaring numbers of under-18s suffering weight-related health problems and tooth decay being the leading cause of child hospitalisation, now is the time for companies to be forced to remove child-appealing packaging from products that are misleading parents and making our children unhealthy and sick.”

    Meanwhile, dismissing the claims, Nestle stated that Nestle Cereals is classed as not high in fat, salt and sugar (non-HFSS) according to the UK Government’s nutrient profiling model.

    A spokesperson for Nestle said, “We are committed to developing food and drink products that are tasty, nutritious and more sustainable.

    “Since 2003, Nestle Cereals embarked on a significant and consistent work of reformulation meaning 84 per cent of the portfolio is now classed as not high in fat, salt and sugar (non-HFSS) according to the UK Government’s nutrient profiling model.

    “That is 18 products within our cereal portfolio in the UK that are non-HFSS and contain no red traffic lights. Our yoghurt portfolio has also made significant steps in reformulation and has seen a reduction of 20 per cent of sugar across our products.”

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