Food Reformulation/Improving the composition of foods and drinks for healthier diets.
The prevalence of obesity and other food-related diseases continues to increase in Europe. The majority of Europeans consume food or drinks containing excessive salt, saturated fat and added sugars; these are unhealthy dietary patterns.
The NAOS Strategy in Spain, aligned with and reinforced by European health policy (EU, WHO/Europe, etc.), develops specific, evidence-based interventions and actions to protect health. Among other tasks, it promotes product reformulation (changes to composition) in order for the foods and drinks offered to all citizens to have better nutritional composition, and to assist the consumer in making healthier decisions and choices by providing the most appropriate information. This would contribute to people adopting healthier lifestyles.
The reformulation policy that the EU is promoting through the High Level Group on Nutrition and Physical Activity (Working Group of the Member States and the European Commission) considers it a priority to address reducing certain nutrients and reformulating products in order to achieve reasonable intake of these nutrients, compatible with improving the health of the population. Since 2008, the European Commission High Level Group has established two framework agreements for action and two annexes on the following nutrients:
- Salt (2008): EU Framework for National Salt Initiatives.
- Selected Nutrients (fat, saturated fat, trans fat, added sugars and energy) (2009): EU Framework for National Initiatives on Selected Nutrients.
These framework agreements and their annexes are for voluntary use and help Member States to reinforce the implementation and assessment of reformulation and product improvement at the national level. They set reduction objectives for each nutrient, based on scientific evidence and on the recommended intake established by WHO and the EFSA. They include a list of food groups or categories where reduction might be focused at the European level, based on levels of consumption, among other aspects. Despite this, Member States can establish other priorities for reformulation in different food groups, adapted to their specific circumstances, culture and other national public health motives.
Through the NAOS Strategy, AECOSAN is part of the High Level Group and develops initiatives for the reduction of selected nutrients in foods:
There have been strengthened efforts in product reformulation at European level, and institutions recognise that in order to “make the healthy choice the easy choice”, it is necessary for all stakeholders to take joint action, combined at different levels within Europe.
For that reason, the Member States under the leadership of the Netherlands as the country holding the European presidency, agreed on a Road Map for Action on Food Product Improvement on 22 February 2016 in Amsterdam. The aim of the plan was to accelerate this action, agreed upon by the parties involved (national governments, food company operators, the European Commission, WHO, NGOs, consumers, etc.), to accelerate commitments and results and to achieve a broader, healthier offer of reformulated foods and drinks.