Brands back government’s soft drinks calorie cut

GlaxoSmithKline, AG Barr and Britvic are three of a raft of food and drink brands to commit to using lower calorie levels in their soft drinks as part of the latest phase of the Government’s Responsibility Deal with the industry.

The pledges come just days after the Prime Minister calls for the food and drinks industry to do more to curb the amount of sugar in food and drinks.

Public health minister Anna Soubry says the latest pledges (see box) will cut the calories and sugar by up to 10% in leading brands including Lucozade and Ribena.

She adds: “Through the Responsibility Deal we are already achieving real progress in helping people reduce the calories and salt in their diet. Overall, more than 480 companies including many leading high street brands have signed up to the Responsibility Deal.

“We are encouraged by the extra businesses which have signed up today but I want to see even more progress. All in the food industry have a part to play and I now expect companies which are not yet taking action to come forward and make pledges.”

The pledges were welcomed by the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA), which highlighted the steps taken by the industry already to help consumers cut their daily calorie intake.

Gavin Partington, director general of the BSDA, adds: “Our industry has been taking steps to reduce the calorie content of our drinks for many years now, and currently more than 60% of all soft drinks contain no added sugar.”

The move comes just days after the Prime Minister David Cameron revealed how challenging it was stopping his own children drinking too much Coca-Cola. Speaking to the House of Commons last week (17 January), the Prime Minister said the government was putting pressure on the food industry to cut the amount of sugar in food and drinks, claiming that it was one of the biggest public health challenges facing the country.

The calls were highlighted earlier this month in the latest stage of the government’s anti-obesity initiative Change4Life. The advertising uses shock tactics to illustrate the amount of sugar and fat contained in cola and pizza as officials look to lay bare what they describe as the “hidden nasties” contained in some food.

The pledges include:

  • Lucozade Energy will reduce the amount of sugar and calories they contain by up to 10%
  • AG Barr will reduce the calorific content across their portfolio of drinks by 5%
  • J2O will launch 2 flavours in a new slim-line can representing a 10% calorie reduction compared with their standard 275ml bottle.
  • Catering firms Lexington Catering and CH&Co have alsoi signed up to the pledge.

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