Thanks to EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou for providing the inspiration for this column. That’s because when he launched the European Commission’s new strategy for tackling the health issues related to poor diet and low levels of physical activity, Kyprianou laid down an interesting challenge to our industry.
"What consumers eat is up to them, but they should be able to make informed choices and have healthy options to choose from," he said. "That is why the Commission is reviewing nutrition labelling and calling on industry to advertise responsibly and reduce levels of salt, fats and sugar."
As far are the UK is concerned, the Commissioner will find himself pushing at an open door. We are leading the rest of Europe in all of these areas, showing how self-regulation can deliver the right results for consumers. Take salt - where bakers have been at the forefront of reformulation efforts. No doubt inspired by the activity in the UK - where industry, the FSA and the government are working together on this issue - the Commission wants to facilitate the roll-out of salt campaigns in the EU.
The Commission is also keen to develop campaigns to change the nutrient content of manufactured foods in the EU. It wants to initiate a study to explore the potential for reformulation and provide a baseline to assess progress. Here, I would stress how important it is that the research goes back far enough to capture all the work already done by industry; or else we will not get the credit we deserve. And that’s my challenge to Kyprianou and the Commission.