Reformulation

Policy Position

FDF members are committed to continuing to respond positively to public health challenges, and to playing their role in helping consumers achieve balanced diets. One part of this is the reformulation of products. This can be to lower the levels of energy or nutrients that might impact on health, for example saturated fat and salt, alongside providing specific ranges of ‘reduced’ products. It can also be to enhance the positive aspects of products, so including more fruit and vegetables or increasing the fibre, vitamin or mineral content for example. This work is all carried out without compromising products’ great taste and whilst continuing to ensure food safety.

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Background

The UK food and drink manufacturing industry is now widely recognised as leading the world when it comes to reformulating products; extending consumer choice; and providing clear on-pack nutrition labelling.

As far back as 2004 FDF launched a sector-wide health and wellbeing manifesto setting out a clear action plan for food and drink manufacturers. Over the years our members have taken a wide range of action to reformulate products, including some of Britain’s best loved brands, to make them healthier whilst maintaining their customer appeal. For example, over the last five years, as a result of such industry changes, there has been a 10% reduction in salt levels in FDF members' products compared with 2008[1].

Even with this impressive achievement, our members are continuing to look for new and innovative ways to make further changes and to respond to the challenges that are being set to the food industry by government and campaigners. Many of our members have signed up to the Public Health Responsibility Deal and have committed to reach stretching salt targets, as well as looking at innovative ways to reduce the energy content of products.

We worked with the Scottish Government as it developed its voluntary healthy choices framework and members are now considering how best they can contribute to this. In addition in Scotland, SFDF provides a free of charge reformulation service to small and medium businesses, funded by the Scottish Government. View more details on the reformulation service

To highlight industry’s commitment to the Responsibility Deal and to mark the latest annual updates, FDF have produced a PDF highlighting the work done by companies, including reformulation, on the calorie reduction pledge.

FDF has also prepared a report to showcase the work of members more broadly than the Responsibility Deal. The report, entitled “Health and Wellbeing Report”, is used as a tool for building greater awareness and understanding among the media, parliamentarians and other key stakeholders.

Energy

The Responsibility Deal’s Food Network launched a calorie reduction pledge on 24 March 2012, to help the government achieve its aim of reducing the population’s calorie intake by 5 billion calories. At the time of launch 17 companies signed the pledge; this has now grown to 43. The pledge covers a range of actions, but one way a food or drink company can contribute is through reformulation to reduce the amount of calories in a product.

Salt

The Department of Health is working with manufacturers, retailers and caterers to secure voluntary reductions in salt, and is striving to reduce the average population salt intake to 6g/day. Following the launch of the Responsibility Deal on 15 March 2011, many FDF members have signed up to the salt targets, indicating their continuing commitment to salt reduction. These targets have recently been reviewed, and FDF and our members engaged with the government throughout this process. The new targets are set for completion in 2017. View new salt targets

FDF members remain committed to working with government and other stakeholders to help reduce salt in the UK diet. Technical issues and consumer acceptance present considerable barriers to further reformulation and the sector will continue to look for solutions to reduce salt intakes and to seek opportunities and support for pre-competitive research and collaborations

See FDF's policy briefing on salt for more information.

Trans Fatty Acids

Trans Fatty Acids (TFAs) are only found at low levels in foods on the UK market. The latest data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) indicates that intakes in the UK are 0.7% of food energy for adults, which includes naturally occurring trans fatty acids. NDNS 2008-2012 (pdf). This means that current intakes are less than half of the UK government’s recommended maximum TFA intake of 2% of food energy. Nevertheless some artificial TFAs remain in a small number of products, and where this is the case FDF members have signed up to the Responsibility Deal target to eliminate these.

See FDF's policy briefing on trans fatty acids.

Saturated Fat

Many of our members have already reformulated to significantly reduce the amounts of saturated fat in products. Several members made commitments to the Department of Health saturated fat pledge, launched as part of the Responsibility Deal in October. The Scottish Government has recently published it’s “Supporting Healthy Choices (pdf)” paper. This includes several commitments which could encompass saturated fat reduction or removal; but does not include voluntary targets. View the Healthy Choices Voluntary Framework.

See FDF’s policy briefing on saturated fat

Notes
1.Kantar data compiled for FDF, January 2013.

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Last reviewed: 23 May 2016