Cut calories or be named and shamed, Hunt says
Restaurants, cafés and pubs will be named and shamed unless they make food portions smaller or less sweet, the government has said.
Chains such as Pizza Express, Starbucks, McDonald’s and Gourmet Burger Kitchen have been told to “step up” by cutting sugar from food and reducing the size of desserts, cakes and croissants. Calorie-reduction targets for fatty, savoury foods will also be set.
Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, told a private meeting of more than 100 food companies yesterday that “going out to eat is no longer a treat” because it is so common. Takeaways and sandwich shops would therefore be expected to take the same action as supermarkets and food manufacturers in tackling Britain’s obesity problem, he said.
The threat to restaurants marks a toughening of approach as the government tries to make the best of a blueprint to reduce childhood obesity that was “castrated” by Theresa May when she arrived in Downing Street. One of the few measures to survive was a voluntary challenge to food companies to reduce sugar in key products by 20 per cent within five years.
Public Health England (PHE) has promised this will be its priority and yesterday revealed the target would apply to all the main sources of sugar for children apart from soft drinks, which will be subject to a sugar tax.
Cereals, confectionery, yoghurts, ice cream, sweet spreads and jams, cakes, biscuits and breakfast foods such as croissants must all become less sweet or smaller, PHE told the meeting.