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The role of the food industry (retailers, manufacturers and food service) in helping consumers eat healthily and sustainably has been receiving considerable attention in recent years. This paper focuses on the challenges facing the food industry and the role of food reformulation in meeting these challenges, through the lens of a public health nutritionist. Attention has been heightened by the Government's Responsibility Deal, launched in early 2011 by the Department of Health (England), by the UK's engagement with the global food security and food supply sustainability agendas and by the Government Office of Science's Foresight report. The Responsibility Deal's food network has to date focused on reduction of trans fatty acids, salt and calories and out-of-home calorie labelling (in food service settings). New pledges are expected soon on increasing fruit and vegetable intakes. Reformulation is a major feature of the Responsibility Deal's approach, and along with other approaches such as portion control, choice editing and information provision, there is potential to increase the breadth of healthier choices available to the public. With the exception of fruit and vegetables, the emphasis has been almost exclusively on aspects of the diet that are in excess for many of the population (e.g. energy and salt). Evidence of low consumption of some key micronutrients by some groups of the population, particularly adolescents and young adults, often alongside excess energy intake compared with expenditure, is all too often overlooked. This paper summarises the progress made to date, the challenges faced and the opportunities that exist, with particular focus on reformulation. One of the biggest challenges is the relatively poor understanding of how to effect positive and long-term dietary behaviour change. The paper concludes that, in isolation, reformulation is unlikely to provide a complete solution to the challenge of improving eating patterns and nutrient provision, although it is a contributor.
British Nutrition Foundation, 15-19 Kingsway, London WC2B 6UN, UK.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society
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The application of knowledge to the food industry.
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The productive enterprises concerned with food processing.
The industry concerned with processing, preparing, preserving, distributing, and serving of foods and beverages.
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