Milk cereal breakfast

“Your entire challenge seems more concerned with the health of your business, rather than the business of health”

Dear Kellogg’s.

We agree wholeheartedly that the government’s current metrics to assess the nutritional value of our food are inadequate, and a ground-up reappraisal of the Nutrient Profiling Model (NPM) is long overdue. It’s great to see such a high-profile company leading the charge – but only if it’s in the right direction.

The issue is not whether adding milk nudges Frosties into amber territory. Maybe it does, but to what end? The sugar is still all there, as anyone who’s ever drained the last drop of milk from a bowl can attest. The issue is more that your entire challenge seems more concerned with the health of your business, rather than the business of health. We have compelling evidence that they can and should profitably co-exist, and believe Kellogg’s is morally obliged to champion this shift in thinking.

Millions of families love your products. They’re not all the worst offenders, and some can potentially form part of a healthy balanced diet. But when rates of Type 2 diabetes in UK children have grown almost 50% in five years, something’s clearly not working. And that’s just the tip of the NHS iceberg. In this ever-darkening context, a court challenge that effectively says “please change the rules to allow us to continue to do exactly what we’ve been doing” comes across as cynical, self-serving and unworthy.

Perhaps the worst outcome of the recent ruling will be to strengthen the legitimacy of the current NPM and its public ‘traffic light’ face, so dumbed-down as to be almost wholly counter-productive. The heart of the problem is that it’s based on laboratory chemistry rather than human biology. Anything measured on a bench rather than in a human body is only ever going to provide the bluntest of insight about what we should be putting inside our bodies. Not all calories are equal, yet that is the premise for the NPM. 


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It’s hardly news that this long-standing model is so flawed. Henry Dimbleby’s brilliantly researched National Food Strategy persuasively defined what counts as ‘junk’ and advocated workable policies to address it. But, identified by the government (and outed by The Sun) as a surefire vote-loser, it was not-so-stealthily shelved. You were presumably relieved by that outcome.

A key driver behind the new legislation is to force reformulation – but with a dysfunctional NPM, it often ends up no healthier. In fact, filling unhealthy products with chemical sweeteners linked to gut and brain damage is making them worse, but literally giving them a green light.

We appreciate it’s tempting for ‘big food’ to believe its hands are being tied by shareholder interests, perceived ‘consumer demand’ and the regulatory framework set by government. The first two can be answered by backing smarter food technologies from nimble start-ups, like in every other sector, and the last by challenging the framework on a more fundamental level than tweaks to rules or definitions.

We have compelling proof – based on the serious science of in-body responses at cellular level – that the health of big business need not be antithetical to the far greater business of population health.

This not the forum to delve into the Alternative Carbohydrate model we’ve spent six years developing, allowing even ultra-processed foods (UPFs) to perform overwhelmingly better in metabolic terms with no effect on taste or texture – but we’d love to talk.

You still hold massive power in your hands. I propose we work together to wield that power for the common good – in a way that’s absolutely compatible with the corporate profits you understandably seek to protect, with a side order of overwhelmingly positive PR.

Maybe we should meet for breakfast