New Dolmio labels warn: lay off the sauce

MARS food, the company behind Dolmio's pasta sauce, is to introduce a new label advising its consumers that its products that are higher in fat, salt and sugar should be only eaten "occasionally".

The company is to release a list of "occasional" products - those to be enjoyed once per week and a list of "everyday" products, as part of a five year health initiative, the company has announced.

Mars said some of its best loved brands from the "main meal" range, including but not limited to Uncle Ben's, Masterfoods and Dolmio, will all be part of the new initiative which aims to help consumers make healthier food choices.

Brands from Mars food chocolate range which include chocolate bars, confections and gum will not be part of the initiative.

A central part of the plan will also be to change the recipes of current products by reducing salt, sugar and fat. These reformulated products will all be labelled as everyday products.

Would you limit your intake of a food if a label on it told you to?

This poll ended on 16 April 2017.

Current Results

Yes. I probably would.

33%

I'd take as advice and consider it.

40%

I most likely wouldn't.

13%

I'd do the opposite to whatever nanny-state nonsense was on the label.

13%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Some Mars food products are higher in salt, added sugar or fat in order to stay true to their authentic recipe, the company explained. As these products are not intended to be eaten daily, Mars will provide guidance to consumers on packaging and on its website about how often these meals should be consumed within a balance diet.

"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," said Fiona Dawson, global president of Mars food, drinks, and multisales.

The company has pledged to reduce salt by an average of 20 per cent by 2021 and reduce added sugar in a limited number of sauces and light meals by 2018.

"Rising obesity levels are a real concern and a range of initiatives are needed to change behaviour and reverse the current trend. We believe it is important to provide people with the facts required to make an informed choice about what they eat through clear nutritional labelling," a spokesperson for Mars Food told the Independent.

"Providing inspiration on how to make healthy meals and encouraging the consumption of more fruit, veg and fibre will help the nation achieve a healthy balanced diet," the company added.

Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London and chairman of Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) welcomed the plan.

"Trying to change people's behaviours is a great yet ambitious idea. Our fast paced society means many people just don't have the time to cook anymore and with most of the salt in our diet coming from the foods we buy, it's difficult to fall below the maximum intake of 6g/day. Reformulation is the key solution, but whilst it remains voluntary many companies are failing to do this," Mr MacGregor said.

But he added that the initiative was not going to solve the health problems in the UK: "What is needed is what the British Retail Consortium has asked the government for - a mandatory system of regulated targets for the reduction of sugar, saturated fat and salt. This will create a level playing field and ensure all companies follow suit."

George Osborne has announced a sugar tax on the soft drinks industry as part of the 2016 Budget with the goal to raise an estimated £520 million a year. He has pledged to spend the money on funding for sport in primary schools.

But the Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned the tax could lead to people consuming more sugar as they turn to foods instead.



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