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PHE: Guidelines on reducing sugar in food published for industry

30th March 2017

Public Health England (PHE) has published the technical guidelines setting out the approaches the food industry can take to reduce the amount of sugar children consume through the everyday foods that contribute the most to intakes.

The guidelines include the recommended sugar limits for 9 food groups including biscuits, breakfast cereals and yogurt. Also published is the 2015 baseline.

The 9 food categories in the programme are:
  • breakfast cereals
  • yogurts
  • biscuits
  • cakes
  • morning goods like croissants
  • puddings
  • ice creams, lollies and sorbets
  • confectionery (chocolate and sweet)
  • sweet spreads, which is sub-categorised into:
    • chocolate spread
    • peanut butter
    • dessert toppings and sauces
    • fruit spreads

Sub-categories have been introduced due to the wide range of different products included in the sweet spreads category.

Encouraging the industry to innovate to lower children’s sugar intakes means the programme will be good for health and good for business.

One of the main commitments in the Government’s Childhood obesity: a plan for action was to reduce the amount of sugar contained in food. The challenge is to reduce sugar by 5% by August 2017 and overall by 20% by 2020.

The 3 approaches the food industry can take to reduce sugar are:
  • reformulating products to lower the levels of sugar present
  • reducing the portion size, and/or the number of calories in single-serve products
  • shifting consumer purchasing towards lower or no added sugar products

PHE will judge the success of the sugar reduction programme by measuring the net amount of sugar removed from key food categories. The principles are to encourage the industry to go further and faster in sugar reduction in order to improve health outcomes, but also to give it flexibility in how it meets the Government’s challenge.