Pubs to be ‘shamed’ into sugar reduction by Government

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Sugar warning: pubs to be pressured into making food healthier
Sugar warning: pubs to be pressured into making food healthier

Related tags Nutrition

Pubs and other food and drink-serving outlets will be "shamed" into reducing the sugar content of their food by the Government, warns health secretary Jeremy Hunt and Public Health England (PHE) chief executive Duncan Selbie.

A database on pudding sizes in food-serving groups is expected to be created, while a similar tactic could also be applied to calories, saturated fat and salt in the future.

Big pub chains, restaurant groups and food and drink manufacturers will be urged by the Government to cut the sugar in their products by 20% before 2020, according to details released by PHE yesterday.

The plans form part of the Government’s tactics to cut obesity and obesity-related diseases in the UK, but follows calls from the food and drink sector’s Face the Facts, Can the Tax​ campaign to stop a tax on sugary drinks.

What the government’s doing:

  • 20% of sugar removed from food and drink contributing the most to children’s diets
  • Clear targets will be set by PHE to support the reduction
  • A similar reduction programme for calories will be developed in 2017
  • A programme on saturated fats may also be developed

Going out is “no longer a treat”, Hunt said yesterday and added operators should look at changing recipes and reducing the size of their portions to help combat obesity.

'Affects our health'

Selbie said: “What’s in our food and drink clearly affects our health, and the food and drink industry can be a powerful influence on what we eat.

“We’re pleased to be leading together on what we believe will be the most extensive, formal and structured programme on food reformulation anywhere in the world.”

It is expected that all areas of the food sector – pubs, restaurants and manufacturers – come on board and make changes to their dishes and drinks, said Hunt.

Businesses will have to consult with Government officials in the next six months and report on the success of their sugar reduction targets by March next year.

ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "Pubs, bars and restaurants have already made, and continue to make, a great effort to provide customers with information to make informed choices on their eating habits out of the home."

Many outlets already provided information on calorie content and food provenance to ensure customers understand what they're eating and to encourage healthy eating, she added.

"Additional legislation and levels of bureucracy at such a politically and economically unstable time is exactly what UK hospitality businesses do not need," Nicholls added.

'Very real risk'

"There is also a the very real risk that a government database of resturant pudding sizes, which attempts to name and shame businesses, will have the opposite intended effect."

Organisations within the on-trade, such as the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), warned The Morning Advertiser ​(MA​) earlier this month that Government intervention could get worse.

Earlier this month Nicholls told MA ​that if the sugar tax on drinks doesn’t work, Government is likely to look at applying pressure on other areas within the foodservice sector.

She said: “The pub trade is already working on reducing the amount of sugar drinks it stocks behind the bar and has been doing that for a considerable amount of time.

"Enforcing the tax isn’t going to solve the UK’s obesity crisis, it is going to affect businesses. It’s the principle of it and if this doesn’t work, what are they going to tax next?”

Related topics Soft & Hot Drinks News Legislation

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