Costa is one of the high street outlets that have signed up to PHE’s sugar reduction targets

Leading food-to-go brands have launched a code of practice to slash sugar levels by 20% to hit PHE reduction targets by 2020.

McDonald’s, Greggs, Costa, Caffè Nero and Starbucks have all signed up to the code, which pledges to reformulate recipes, develop healthier children’s menus, and run responsible promotions.

The code also advocates product innovation and a range of healthier options to support consumers’ 5-a-day intake, with nutritional information readily available.

Drawn up by a working group from the participating companies and reviewed by the British Nutrition Foundation, the code will be used in collaboration with leading industry bodies and trade associations.

“We’re proud of this code of practice for the out-of-home dining sector, which has been drawn up with input by businesses from pub chains to coffee shops,” said an alliance statement.

“These pledges will positively benefit the millions of customers we welcome into our stores and restaurants every day, to help make a significant collective impact. We’re pleased that by working together we have been able to make strong commitments to reduce sugar. We now call on other businesses in our sector, large and small, to join us in adopting the code.”

British Nutrition Foundation director general Professor Judy Buttriss said: “We really welcome this development, which recognises the important role these major high street brands in the out-of-home sector can play in improving the nation’s diet. There is a need to ensure that healthier options are always prominent, attractive and affordable, and to encourage others in the sector, large and small, to follow this lead. BNF has developed online training that can support companies on this journey.”