Food chains join forces to cut sugar

Some of the high street’s biggest food chains have signed up to a series of new health targets including a 20% reduction in sugar by 2020.

The alliance, which includes Caffè Nero, Costa, Greggs, McDonald’s and Mitchells & Butlers, has created a new code of practice with the aim of driving responsible behaviour in product development and customer marketing.

Other signatories include Pizza Hut Delivery (YUM!), Premier Inn, Starbucks, Wetherspoons, and Whitbread Restaurants.

The group has pledged to innovate with new products and reformulate recipes to reduce sugar as part of efforts to meet Public Health England’s sugar reduction target of 20% by 2020, as set out in the government’s childhood obesity plan.

Other commitments include running responsible promotions that adhere to the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP), Ofcom and Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) codes for advertising to children; and providing clear, easy to understand, and readily available nutritional information.

Progress against the code of practice will be monitored by the British Nutrition Foundation.

“We’re pleased that by working together we have been able to make strong commitments to reduce sugar,” said an alliance spokesperson. “We now call on other businesses in our sector, large and small, to join us in adopting the code.”

The code of practice has been met with cautious enthusiasm by health campaigners. "We welcome the move by these reputable high street food and drinks chains and hope that they all fully commit to evidence-based actions, such as stopping unhealthy promotions and reformulating products with less sugar, within their code of practice – along with the other out of home businesses who are yet to sign up,” said Kawther Hashem from Action on Sugar.

“However, we do question how strongly and quickly these changes will be implemented, based on their limited progress to date, and sincerely hope this marks a turning point in them taking action to prevent obesity," Hashem added.

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