Salt, sugar and fat to be reduced in over 2,000 food products

Bread, yoghurts, soft drinks, fruit juices, crisps, breakfast cereal and readymade meals are among over 2,000 food products that will see their amount of sugar, salt and trans fats reduced by 2022, and in some cases 2023. The goal is to lower the health risks associated with the consumption of these products.

The plan had been in the pipeline since February 2017 but was only formalised this Thursday after an agreement was signed between the national health board (DGS) and seven food industry associations.

“We wanted to ensure that the food products included in the plan will be those that are most consumed by the population. That is one of the very good aspects of this deal,” said Maria João Gregório, head of the National Healthy Eating Programme.

She explained that the amount of sugar used in sweet products will be reduced by 10%, as will the amount of salt used in potato crisps. Bread will only have one gram of salt per 100 grams of bread, and a 12% salt reduction is also planned for pizzas and breakfast cereal.

The amount of trans fat allowed in a product will depend on the total amount of fat the product has: only two grams of trans fat will be allowed per every 100 grams of fat.

But as Observador newspaper points out, products like ham, cheese, biscuits and cookies were left out of the plan.

Says Gregório, many of these products, particularly biscuits and cookies, are produced outside of Portugal which makes it hard to make them follow the country’s recommendations. The others were left out due to “technological production issues” which make it “hard for the industries of these sectors to make a commitment”.

The government initially expected the amount of salt consumption to fall 1.8 tons and the amount of sugar consumption to drop 13,000 tons when comparing 2016’s numbers to 2022, and while Gregório says that these numbers “probably won’t be achieved, they shouldn’t be too far off”.

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