chinese takeaway hfss

Plans for food companies to report on the percentage of revenue that comes from sales of HFSS products have been ditched, after they claimed it would encourage them to make healthy food more expensive.

A series of other plans, drawn up by the Food Data Transparency Partnership (FDTP), have also been sidelined, The Grocer has learned.

However, health campaigners claimed the backtrack “made a mockery” of the FDTP’s aim to improve the healthiness of food by improving the transparency of data.

The partnership was set up last year in response to calls in Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy. It had come up with proposals for a series of metrics for a voluntary system of reporting.

But a “decision log” published by the body, made up of members including Tesco, Morrisons, Nestlé and Mars, said the plans had been “streamlined”, resulting in many of the key proposals being removed.

These included proposals for companies to report on the percentage of total revenue from HFSS products, which was “rejected” because it was feared it would “incentivise business for making healthier food more expensive rather than making products healthier”.

Other plans removed included plans for reporting on total calories produced and total sugar sold by volume, as well as similar measures for salt and saturated fat.

The justification for removing the plans included fears that reporting absolute sales of sugar in tonnes would be ineffective as it would be “greatly influenced by the size of the company”, and could impact companies with the largest growth.

“One company increasing its absolute sales of sugar does not necessarily mean overall population purchasing of sugar is increasing”, companies said.

Business claimed that reporting on HFSS metrics meant there was “no incentive” to invest in products that were too far from the HFSS threshold to get under it, which would “greatly affect” the impact of the measures.

Documents reveal businesses claimed the measures would be “ineffective” and said there was a “general dislike of HFSS-based metrics as such metrics do not encourage improving products across the whole range”.

The FDTP is believed to be pressing ahead with “streamlined” plans for companies to voluntarily report on the percentage of sales from HFSS products based on overall tonnes sold, with measures due to be announced by public health minister Andrea Leadsom in the next few weeks.

Members agreed to go ahead with a figure based on overall tonnes sold because it would be aligned with regulations.

As the government’s plans face being steadily watered down, supermarket bosses have called on ministers to stop concentrating their efforts on supermarkets and suppliers and instead tackle the swathes of out-of-home companies that are currently avoiding any scrutiny.

The BRC said that while talks had focused on what major companies could commit to make food healthier, thousands of small companies were going unchecked, with companies that had committed to reformulation and other measures being penalised while others were getting away scot-free.

Opie said ministers needed to bring in regulations that applied to all business to create a level playing field, including measures that would provide investment to allow small companies to make improvements to the health of their products.

“Many takeaway establishments are actually not part of a bigger chain,” he said. ”At least larger food takeaways now have to display calories. But your local chicken shop, they are not engaging in these areas.

“Providing calorie information needs to be taken as seriously a public health issue as allergen information is and required for all businesses.

“We understand there will be more challenges for some smaller food businesses, but that in itself shouldn’t be an excuse not to be included.”