Reformulation for Health

Guidance for food businesses on recipe and product reformulation. 

It is important that consumers have access to a wide range of food and drinks that can help support a healthy balanced diet.

Reformulation is one of the most effective ways the food industry can help improve our diet. It involves making changes to an existing product or recipe to improve the nutritional content of it.  Food businesses right across the supply chain can take bold steps to support this.

Reformulation can include:

  • reducing the amount of calories, fat, sugar and salt in food products
  • reducing portion sizes
  • increasing the amount of fibre, fruit and vegetables in food products

This can also include replacing ingredients with healthier alternatives, such as replacing sources of saturated fat with sources of unsaturated fat, and improving the quality of information available to consumers.

Food Standards Scotland supports The Food and Drink Federation Scotland’s (FDF) Reformulation for Health programme, which helps small to medium sized food companies make their products healthier. This support is available for both FDF members and non-members and is funded by the Scottish Government.

Support for businesses to reformulate in Scotland

The process of reformulating is different for each food business.

FDF Scotland can provide the following support:

  • review your current nutritional specification, and benchmark this against existing market trends to ensure that any work done now strengthens your product’s longevity
  • map any upcoming industry guidelines and legislations which may affect your product
  • use a holistic approach to reformulation, and will present all the nutritional improvements for your product that could be achieved through reformulation
  • encompass what is important to your brand specifically and ensure that reformulation works for you.

FDF also have a Reformul8 toolkit available to review your reformulation opportunities.

You can get in touch with FDF Scotland at reformulation@fdfscotland.org.uk to find out how they can help your business now.

UK-wide Reformulation Programme

In support of the UK Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan which aims to halve the rate of childhood obesity by 2030, a UK wide reformulation programme is in place. The programme includes a number of targets to reduce the amount of sugar, salt and calories in the foods we commonly consume.

The UK Government has published guidelines and targets for the following:

Sugar

The voluntary sugar reduction guidelines in place are for all sectors of the food industry, and explain how to achieve a target of 20% reduction in sugar across the top food categories that contribute to children’s sugar intake by 2020. These categories include breakfast cereals, biscuits, cakes and morning goods.

A progress report on the programme between 2015 and 2019 was recently published, and the next progress report is expected to be published in late 2022.

Salt

New voluntary salt targets have been published, to be achieved by 2024 for retail and out of home sectors. The targets cover 84 specific food categories that contribute most to people’s salt intakes, such as meat products and bread.

A report on the food industry’s progress towards meeting the 2024 targets is anticipated in 2022.

Calories

There are voluntary calorie reduction guidelines for retail and out of home products, to be achieved by 2024. Most guidelines are based upon a 10% calorie reduction, and there are also guidelines for some single serve products.

MenuCal & Menu Calorie Labelling

MenuCal is a free and easy to use tool for food businesses to provide information about the calories and allergens in their dishes to help customers make informed choices. This tool can help support out of home businesses who want to know the calorie content of their food with a view to reducing calories. Note this tool is not suitable for manufacturers as it only provides calories.

As part of the Scottish Government’s Out of Home Action Plan, mandatory calorie labelling of all standard food and drink ready for immediate consumption has been proposed for Scotland. This may act as a facilitator for businesses to reformulate their offerings to healthier choices. A public consultation on the proposals was published by Scottish Government on 8th April 2022 and is open until 1 July 2022.

Mandatory calorie labelling was implemented in England in April 2022, meaning it is now a legal requirement for businesses with more than 250 employees to display calorie information of non-prepacked food and soft drinks.

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