PHE releases guidelines on reducing sugar in UK food industry


The Public Health England (PHE) has released new technical guidelines for the UK food industry to reduce sugar consumption by children through everyday foods.

According to the new guidelines, UK food manufacturers are advised to reduce 20% of sugar content by 2020, and 5% by August.

PHE has recommended sugar limits for nine food groups that include breakfast cereals, yoghurts, biscuits cakes, breakfast items, puddings, ice creams, lollies, sorbets, and confectionery.

The health department has also included sweet spreads in the programme, which are sub-categorised into fruit spreads, chocolate spread, peanut butter, dessert toppings and sauces.

“I believe reducing sugar in the nation’s diet will be good for health and ultimately good for UK food business."

The government has taken this new initiative with an objective to reduce the child obesity in the country.

PHE has suggested three approaches for the food industry, which they can adopt to reduce sugar content in their products.

The three approaches are reformulating products to lower the levels of sugar present, reducing the quantity of the product or calories in a single-serve, and taking new initiatives in order to shift consumer purchasing preferences towards lower or no added sugar products.

PHE would measure the net amount of sugar removed from key food categories, in order to judge the success of the sugar reduction programme.

PHE chief executive Duncan Selbie said: “The UK has one of the most innovative food sectors in the world and it’s in everyone’s best interests to ensure it remains a dynamic and thriving sector of our economy.

“The scale of our ambition to reduce sugar is unrivalled anywhere in the world, which means the UK food industry has a unique opportunity to innovate and show the rest of the world how it can be done.

“I believe reducing sugar in the nation’s diet will be good for health and ultimately good for UK food business.

“We can’t duck the fact a third of children are leaving primary school overweight or obese and obesity generally is having a profound effect, not just on the costs for the health service, but on the overall health of the nation.

“Our economy is affected as obesity can lead to long-term health problems that result in time off work.”

The PHE has prepared these guidelines after conducting meetings with the food industry and public health NGOs for more than six months.

It also conducted more than 40 meetings with the food suppliers, manufacturers, retailers and the catering sector, representing fast food, coffee shops, family restaurants, entertainment venues and pub chains.

The 20% sugar reduction target was set based on 2015 average sugar levels across the nine categories, known as the sales-weighted average.

PHE explained that the soft drinks have been covered under the industry sugar levy.

The agency has confirmed that it has covered the sweeteners that have been approved through European Food Safety Authority’s processes are a safe and acceptable alternative to using sugar.


Image: Public Health England (PHE) has released new technical guidelines for the food industry in the UK. Photo: courtesy of  Crown copyright.