Health by stealth

Mandatory food reformulation

By Christopher.Snowdon

Food and soft drinks manufacturers are continually reformulating their products and bringing new products to market in response to consumer demand. In recent years, there has been growing interest in mandatory reformulation to reduce the salt, sugar and/or fat content of food. The UK has gone furthest down this road with a broad reformulation scheme which is technically voluntary but is being undertaken with the threat of legislation. The British scheme highlights several problems with state-sanctioned for reformulation: 1) It can penalise companies that have already made significant changes to their products. 2) It can lead to smaller products being sold at the same price. 3) It restricts choice by effectively banning the original recipe. 4) The targets can be unrealistic and arbitrary. 5) For these reasons, it can be unpopular with the public.

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