Food companies are told: cut hidden sugar by 10pc before 2020
Published 27/01/2016 | 02:30
Food companies will be told today to cut the amount of hidden 'added sugars' in popular products by 10pc in the next four years.
And they must reduce levels of saturated fat by 5pc by 2020 to help tackle rates of obesity.
The targets are expected to be set by Health Minister Leo Varadkar at the launch of a major report by the Food and Drinks Industry Ireland into progress on how food products are being reformulated to make them healthier.
The report is expected to say that salt levels have been cut in some products by between 8pc and 45pc.
Saturated fat has come down by 5pc to 23pc in some foods.
However, progress has been slower in reducing added sugars, with falls of between 1pc and 14pc noted.
The Irish Independent revealed recently how even a health-conscious day's eating can still leave a person taking in nearly three times the recommended daily sugar limit.
The food industry report will also point to progress that the industry has made in reducing calories in food.
But the Department of Health wants it to speed up the rate at which this is being achieved.
The idea behind reformulation is to reduce the content of sugar, salt and fat in products over time, so that customers will not notice the difference.
The food companies are to be asked to set clear timelines for reductions early this year.
The Dutch EU presidency is making reformulation of food products the focus of a high-level conference next month.
Food companies have argued that salt and sugar are vital food preservatives.
Foods regarded as healthier may be concealing high levels of salt. A breakfast of coffee, orange juice, a standard bowl of cornflakes and two slices of toast with butter and marmite contains half the daily allowance of salt.
Food companies are also being urged to improve labelling to make it easier for people to make healthier choices.