Health chiefs are considering setting tough calorie caps on a wide range of take-away and restaurant foods.
Under draft proposals revealed by The Telegraph over Christmas, Public Health England is considering calorie limits on products as part of its activity to reduce obesity. The plans include caps of 550 calories on sandwiches and 1,040 calories on restaurant pizza.
PHE last year published Calorie Reduction: The Scope and Ambition for Action, a strategy calling on businesses to cut 20% from the calorie content of certain foods – including many baked goods – by 2024.
The strategy announced that category guidelines for the food industry were expected to be published by the middle of this year, and would establish baseline calorie levels in each category.
While supermarket and take-out sandwiches would typically fall under the 550-calorie cap revealed last week, many pizzas at restaurants such as Pizza Express and Pizza Hut exceeded the proposed 1,040 limit.
The draft proposals were reported to suggest calorie caps for hundreds of products and servings.
"These are early days in the calorie reduction programme but the food industry has a responsibility to act,” said Public Health England chief nutritionist Alison Tedstone.
“We are consulting on ambitious guidelines to help tackle everyday excess calories – we welcome the industry’s feedback to help shape the final guidelines, due for publication next year.”
Food & Drink Federation chief operating officer Tim Rycroft said the organisation had concerns about how achievable the government’s reformulation ambitions were.
“FDF and its members welcomed the calorie reduction programme when it launched earlier this year.
“We continue to support the government’s reformulation programmes. But we have reservations about how achievable the targets are in reality. A collective 20% calorie reduction guideline across all food categories is unfeasible. Particularly given the range of food types that this blanket guideline covers.
"We hope industry’s concerns will be considered, and we look forward to continuing work with PHE to create a programme most likely to succeed in tackling obesity.”