PHE publishes new voluntary calorie guidelines for food industry

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Public Health England (PHE) has published voluntary calorie reduction guidelines for food industry as part of the government’s obesity strategy.

The guidelines set out the calorie reduction ambitions for all food industry sectors, with different categories used for retailers’ own-brand and manufacturer branded products and the eating out, takeaway and delivery sector.

There’s a particular focus on the latter sector as calories can be particularly high in takeaway and restaurant food.

The recommended reductions include:

  • 20% calorie reduction for most meal categories in the eating out of home, takeaway and delivery sector, alongside a maximum calorie guideline for all categories
  • for children’s meal bundles, a 10% calorie reduction ambition has been set to reflect progress already made
  • 10% calorie reduction ambition for retailers making ready meals, chips and garlic bread, alongside a maximum calorie guideline for all categories
  • for crisps and savoury snacks, a 5% ambition
  • combined guidelines for both sectors have been set for sandwiches (5% ambition) and pizza and pastry products (20% ambition)

The guidelines also assume significance in the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic, with a recent PHE report revealing that being severely overweight increases people’s risk of hospitalisation, Intensive Care Unit admission and death from the coronavirus infection.

“We can all do our bit to stay healthy, to help protect us from coronavirus and take pressure off the NHS. The food industry can play their part, by making it as easy as possible for everyone to eat more healthily. These guidelines will help them take positive action,” Public Health Minister Jo Churchill commented.

New voluntary salt reduction goals have also been published to encourage businesses to further reduce salt levels in the foods that contribute most to salt intakes.

A second progress report on salt reduction, which accompanied the guidelines, has revealed good progress in some categories, such as bread and breakfast cereals.