Food giant advises limit on its brands

By BBC

The firm behind Dolmio pasta sauces and Uncle Ben’s rice says some products should only be consumed once a week due to high salt, sugar or fat content.

Mars Food said it would distinguish between “everyday” and “occasional” items on packs and website.

The company said some foods were higher in salt, sugar or fat to maintain the “authentic” taste of products.

The advice is part of its Health and Wellbeing Ambition to “create and promote healthier food choices”.

Mars told the BBC that just 5% of its products would be labelled “occasional”.

These include Dolmio lasagne sauces, pesto, and carbonara and macaroni oven kits.

‘More work to do’

Mars said its website would be updated over the next few months with a list of “occasional” products to be eaten not more than once a week, and “everyday” ones.

Those products, including Uncle Ben’s oriental sauces, are to be reformulated over the next five years to cut salt, sugar or fat.

Shoppers will see the new guidance appearing on websites in the coming months.

Nutritionist Laura De La Harpe told BBC Radio 5 live it should not be difficult to reduce the sugar content of products.

“The tomatoes are quite sweet anyway,” she said. “I think they need to trial it I suppose, and just bring it right down to a natural level. I think what would concern me would be in they start adding sweeteners, artificial sweeteners to replace the sugar.”

Among the foods classified as “occasional” products by Mars are:

  • Dolmio creamy white lasagne sauce – 7.1g fat, 2.7g saturated fat, 3.2g sugar and 0.72g salt per 94g serving
  • Dolmio pesto, classic basil – 23.4g fat, 3.3g saturated fat, 1.5g sugar and 0.62g salt per 45g serving
  • Dolmio oven bake kit macaroni and cheese – 1g fat, 0.4g saturated fat, 1.8g sugar and 0.32g salt per 137.5g serving

Adults are recommended to have 70g fat a day, 20g saturated fat, 90g sugar and 6g salt.

Mars said its “nutrition criteria” has been developed based on recommendations from leading public health authorities such as the World Health Organization.

Fiona Dawson, a global president of Mars, said: “Our nutrition criteria sets a very high standard for our products, and we also want to help our consumers understand the difference between ‘everyday’ and ‘occasional’ products within a balanced diet.

“The food industry has already made great strides in reducing sodium, but we have more work to do to help consumers reduce sodium intake.

“We support release of the US FDA’s draft sodium reduction guidance, because we believe it’s important to begin a stakeholder dialogue about the role industry can play in this critical part of consumers’ diets.”

The move comes after Chancellor George Osborne announced a sugar tax, with the aim of tackling childhood obesity, in his recent Budget.

 

 

  

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