The food industry has to work harder to tackle the growing obesity problem if it is to avoid regulatory scrutiny, delegates were told at the Westminster Diet & Health Forum.
Speaking at the event, which was run in association with The Grocer, public health minister Melanie Johnson welcomed moves by the industry to reduce salt, sugar and fat in processed foods.
However, current proposals lacked detail and further meetings will be held to address
the issues. The Food Standards Agency would publish results of research into the nutritional content of foods such as canned pasta, pizza and baked beans in the coming weeks, said chairman Sir John Krebs.
He also welcomed calls for the introduction of clearer labelling in the form of signposts showing if they were high in fat, sugar or salt.
Secretary of state for culture media & sport Tessa Jowell, declined to comment on the merits of a ban on food advertising to children. However, she said one approach being considered by government was the creation of a self-regulatory body for the food industry along the lines of The Portman Group.
She also encouraged manufacturers and advertisers to engage with government on ways to boost activity in the population.
She added: “We did not disassociate ourselves from Cadbury’s Get Active campaign.” Indeed, the public furore over the campaign had created an unhelpful nervousness in the industry, she claimed.
Her comments contrasted with those of Melanie Johnson, who claimed that the government had not supported the Get Active campaign and her “hope that we don’t see a similar initiative again”.
Martin Glenn, President of PepsiCo UK & Ireland, said a “traffic light food labelling system” was simplistic and impractical.