Calories to be cut by major food and drink companies

Food labels with calorie measurements There are calls for better labelling on food to help people consume fewer calories

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Food and drink companies have promised to cut calories in their products to help tackle obesity in the UK.

The 17 firms, which include Coca-Cola, Subway and Tesco, have signed up to the government scheme.

The Department of Health says England has one of Europe's highest obesity rates and that consuming too many calories is the root of the problem.

Among ideas to help consumers will be resealable packaging on many chocolate bars, including Cadbury's Dairy Milk.

Under the new scheme, every chocolate bar made by Mars will have a cap of 250 calories, while the UK arm of Coca Cola says it will introduce a 30% reduction in some of its soft drinks by 2014.

Start Quote

It is a great step in the right direction and will help millions of us eat and drink fewer calories”

End Quote Andrew Lansley Health Secretary

And some supermarkets, such as Asda, will develop a new low-calorie brand.

The "calorie reduction pledge" is part of the Public Health Responsibility Deal, developed by the Department of Health.

More than three-quarters of the retail market has signed up, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said.

Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Kerry Foods, Kraft, Mars, Nestle, PepsiCo, Premier Foods, Unilever, Beefeater (Whitbread) and contract caterer Compass have also signed up.

Mr Lansley said: "We all have a role to play - from individuals to public, private and non-governmental organisations - if we are going to cut five billion calories from our national diet.

"This pledge is just the start of what must be a bigger, broader commitment from the food industry. But it is a great step in the right direction and will help millions of us eat and drink fewer calories."

But Labour says the scheme is not the change needed in the nation's diet, favouring instead better food labelling and shielding children from adverts for junk food should be the starting point.

Terry Jones from the Food Manufacturers Federation said companies were committed to making changes.

"This is fundamental - and very costly, actually - reformulation activity to take calories out of products.

"So products that you and I buy today many of them... by 2013/2014 some businesses are talking of taking 30% of the calories out of some of those products."

'Part of the problem'

However, food companies came in for criticism from the Children's Food Campaign.

Campaign spokesman Charlie Powell said: "The food industry wants to be part of the solution but altogether refuses to admit that it's a big part of the problem.

"And it's to the government's disgrace that the food industry is actually helping to set government health policy. I think we should look at what's happening on the alcohol network and actually the government have decided that the way to go is actually to mandate companies in terms of their pricing.

"While they grapple with voluntary approaches, we'll see these weasel word pledges continue."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    Food quality supplied by supermarkets has plummeted in recent years in their frenzy for bigger profits. Don't buy the muck. Buy fresh and cook your own. Teach kids healthy eating and the pleasure of regular exercise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    I just eat fatty food, drink fizzy drinks and sit motionless on the couch for hours because I know it annoys you so greatly, Lansley. Eventually, I hope it will depress you enough that you give up politics and go to live on a sheep farm in Australia - if we're lucky, you will take the rest of the cabinet with you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    A minimum price of 3 pounds for fizzy drinks with any sugar content
    No more than 500ml max container

    Increasing like cigarettes do at 50p a year

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    Who is Charlie Powell and why are his words worthy of broadcasting to the nation? Is he some kind of “expert” or yet another “charity” militant. It seems he would prefer the government to talk to him and him alone.

    I expect that we can look forward to government restricting us to whatever Charlie and his mates say is OK to eat on the basis that we are too stupid to make our own choices.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    Cut calories how - by things like replacing sugar with artificial sweetners? Yay, we can get cancers instead of obesity related conditions.

    More encouragement is needed to persuade people to cook healthily from basic ingredients, not simply tamper with foods already not good for us.

    Why not start by subsidising fruit juices and taxing fizzy drinks?

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    The Scottish Parliament is known as "Telly Tubby Land" so they should be leading the way on fighting obesity

    I would start by narrowing every doorway at Holyrood to a maximum of 20 inches

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    Good grief. Leave us alone. We're not all alcoholic, smoking, fatty food eating people. Stop making us all do without the things we like just because a number of people have to eat till they burst. One more mint for Monsieur?

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    Cutting calories is just a superficial way of dealing with the problem - it takes more than calorie counting to constitute a healthy diet. The additives they will be replacing sugar and fat with to cut the calories down will most likely be unhealthier. The root of the problem needs to be tackled, for example by introducing nutrition into the curriculum.

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    Still can't work out why the taxpayer is subsidising processed food production via a farming subsidy to grow Sugar Beet? Why does Cadbury, Coca Cola, or Pepsi need a tax payer subsidy for the millions of tons of raw sugar they buy and pump into their fizzy drinks or chocolate bars every year? Any Government minister care to comment ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    i remember when wagon wheels were the size of dinner plates

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    Chocolate bars to get smaller more expensive with less taste

    Soup has less salt and seasoning so less taste

    McDonalds definitely aint what it used to be, only their fries have survived the food police purges and maintained their taste

    Chocolate biscuits are half the size they used to be and now you can actually SEE THROUGH the skim of chocolate it's so thin

    What a joyful world we are creating

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    Real calories - basic foods that provides nutrition:

    Cheese on toast with a glass of cold milk.
    Egg sandwich, or poached eggs on toast.
    Fish and chips.
    Roasted leg of Welsh lamb with veg.
    Strong cheddar sandwich with english watercress, cucumber or toms.
    An English bacon sarnie.
    English pork chops.
    Baked beans on toast with poached eggs.
    Roast chicken with veg.
    A stew with any meat and veg.

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    I guess fat people are an easy target,and it must be horrible having to endure the abuse they get from some of the nastier members of the public. I think if we could find a way of helping their self-esteem instead of calorie counting,it would be far better. No-one wants to be fat,no-one wants to hate themself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    One of the things I'd like to see is legislation to force food manufacturers to highlight any changes they've made to their product, so it's easy to detect if they've craftily added more bulking agents, for example. Maybe a big red label on the front for a six month period.

    If it tastes slightly different, you can bet they've been changing the ingredients to make more profit at your expence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    Fizzy drinks are the real enemy, not foodstuffs

    Sort out those fizzy drinks and we sort out the explosion in obesity, various child disorders and diabetes all at the same time.

  • Comment number 149.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    I'm not fat. Why should my bar of chocolate be made even smaller and more expensive just because some clowns don't know when to stop eating?

    It is their responsibility to limit their calorie intake, not the Government's, not the food producers' and certainly not mine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    There is no way the government is going to do anything that kills the multi billion pound fat club industry.

    Huge numbers of workers, from magazine journalists through to food workers producing expensive low calorie foods, depend on people who can't help stuffing their faces.

    And they help reduce the pension deficit too, by popping their clogs as soon as posible after retirement.

    Don't knock it

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    Regulation is Freedom !
    Fear will set you free !

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    I think this is stupid and inconsiderate of those who need a high calorie intake such as myself. as having cystic fibrosis i am needing atleast 4000 calories a day to keep myself going and to help fight off and prevent sever chest infections. it is hard enough trying to get these amount of calories each day without having companies reducing calories within their products.


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