IN THE past year, barely a week has gone by without lively debate over the potential impact that salt, fat, and in particular sugar can have on our bodies.
As public health minister, I welcome the fact that many businesses are responding to the challenges we face and that constructive partnerships are being forged between public health and industry.
There are no silver bullets to these challenges, but having spent 23 years in retail before becoming an MP, I know how important it is for the food and drink industry to step up to the challenge and respond to the demand from their customers for clearer information on products and menus, as well as greater choice to help them lead healthier lives.
Through the Responsibility Deal we have seen good progress in reducing salt, sugar, calories, and providing clearer labelling.
Voluntary action has produced real results. But we must maintain the momentum and ensure that all businesses, large and small, are playing a role in helping consumers. I am keen that those in the industry share their views on how the partnership could work better.
We are building from a good base.
Thanks to your pledges, leading names in the industry now clearly show the number of calories in their products. We have seen big supermarkets, pubs, caterers and manufacturers of household-name brands taking action to help people eat and drink fewer calories. We have seen companies innovating by reformulating their products to make them healthier, without compromising on taste.
The UK is among the world leaders in reducing salt. More than 70% of the retail market and 65% of big high-street restaurants and contract caterers have committed to cutting levels, and we have seen average daily salt intake cut by 15% over the last decade.
That achievement on salt is a reminder of what we are all working for – fewer of my constituents and your customers and employees will have a stroke as a result. I look forward to seeing the next steps that industry takes, working together with us to build on these achievements and help people live better.
The Minister's viewpoint was published in the November issue of Footprint Magazine