Speaking at the General Assembly of the European Soft Drinks Industry in Dublin recently, the Minister for Health Promotion congratulated the sector for its progress on sugar reduction to date.
Ireland has high levels of consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks, higher rates of consumption amongst children and young people and higher rates of consumption amongst those who’re obese and those in more disadvantaged areas, but Ireland is also playing a lead role in the EU discussions on the reduction of added sugars in sugar-sweetened drinks.
Minister Corcoran Kennedy welcomed the European soft drinks industry’s announcement earlier this year that it will reduce added sugars in its products by a further 10% by 2020. The commitment will be rolled out across Europe.
“This is a positive step forward and responds to changing consumer preferences regarding sugar intake as well as calls from Member States and the European Commission for a co-ordinated approach to reformulation and sugar reduction,” she said, “It’s good to see that the sector has committed to innovate, reformulate, use smaller pack sizes and encourage consumer choice towards low- and no-calorie drinks to achieve its target.”
The Minister added, “The soft drinks sector is an early mover in added sugars reduction with its journey beginning in the 1970s when the first no-sugar and no-calorie soft drinks were introduced. In soft drinks, reduction in added sugars leads directly to reduced calories. The industry reduced sugar in still and carbonated soft drinks by 12% from 2000 to 2015 so I’m pleased to see that the new commitment triples this pace by adding another 10% reduction over the next five years.”
However while she congratulated the European Soft Drinks Industry on their progress to date and their plans to 2020 and while she acknowledged that Food Drink Ireland has made considerable achievements in reformulation in the last decade, she encouraged them to do more.
“It’s very important that significant action is taken to reduce added sugars now and to do this the industry needs to broaden and deepen their efforts on reformulation,” she stated, “Time is of the essence. I’m establishing a National Reformulation Technical Working Group to agree Irish targets for reducing fat, sugar and salt and we’ll publish a roadmap for action at the end of the year. I’d encourage all sectors of the industry to engage fully with this process.”
The Minister also outlined Ireland’s perspective on health promotion and nutrition.
“An early action in the Department of Health’s Obesity Policy and Action Plan is the new Healthy Food For Life programme which has a suite of 23 resources to facilitate adults and children to make healthy food choices. These resources include menu plans, fact sheets, leaflets and posters and are available at www.healthpromotion.ie.”