Tuesday 24 January 2023

Food reformulation folly - the zombie twitches

The food reformulation wheeze seemed to fade away once Public Health England was killed off, but state-funded charity Nesta resurrected it this week and wants it to be mandatory. 

I wrote about it for Cap-X...

Public Health England (PHE) is dead but its terrible ideas live on. In 2015, PHE initiated a ruse in which it planned to remove 20% of the sugar from most processed food. The target was set for 2020 and the agency started working with its ‘stakeholders’ in the food industry to achieve ‘health by stealth’. 

The idea was that the companies would slyly remove sugar from their trusted brands and consumers would lose weight without having to make any effort. It was assumed that we wouldn’t notice the taste of artificial sweeteners because we are creatures of habit. So long as the packaging looks the same, we will mindlessly consume the same brands in the same quantities as we always do.

It didn’t quite work out like that. The food industry had to break it to PHE that you can’t take the sugar out of a cake or chocolate bar without compromising the size and texture, not to mention the taste. Some products, such as boiled sweets, consist of almost nothing but sugar and cannot be reformulated. Jam has to contain a certain amount of sugar otherwise it cannot legally be sold as jam. In any case, people will not buy artificially sweetened cakes, biscuits, spreads and confectionery because they taste horrible.


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