Saturated fat-laden food, snacks tipped for portion action

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Portion sizes, Meal, Food

A workshop convened by the FSA has identified some food categories
for action on portion sizes, as a report finds that some products
sold in the UK may have increased in size over the last 15-20
years.

The Food Standards Agency's focus on portion sizes is part of a programme of work in collaboration with the food industry on reformulation and other efforts to help people achieve a balanced diet. Following on from its salt reduction campaign, initiated in 2004, the FSA began a programme to on saturated fat and energy intake at the beginning of this year. Part of this involves scope for smaller or standardised portion sizes for some products pre-packed to provide individual servings. Following analysis of the data, the participants at the workshop, which took place in April, recommended that the focus of future work, consumer advice and industry action should be on foods that contribute most to saturated fat intake, like biscuits, cakes, meat products, savoury snacks and dairy products and spreads. Single serving, or 'impulse' purchases of sweet and savoury snacks, as well as sugary and other beverages, should also be prioritised, they said. However the academic element of the workshop concluded that it "would not be practical to focus on ready meals in the first instance​". This is because there are differences in how people choose to eat them - either as main meals or as accompaniments. Portion size data​ According to the report, a wider range of portion sizes are now available, but there do not seem to be consistent trends between the food categories. However in premium products, like muffins, cookies, luxury crisps, top quality sausages, luxury ice creams and chocolate, larger portion sizes are now available. These are sometimes billed as 'sharer' packs. The report authors noted in concluding comments, however, 'share' type packs of premium, energy-dense foods could have been available 15 to 20 years ago, but may not have been included in the data sources examined, such as Food Portion Sizes publications. Individual ready meals have also increased in size, but traditional and standard products, like cakes and biscuits, look to have remained the same. Some smaller portion sizes are also available for some products, like chocolate, savoury snacks, soft drinks and ice cream bars and comes, but these are often sold in the multi-pack format. Julian Hunt, director of communications at the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), which represents UK food manufacturers, saw the resutls of the reports as testament to industy action: "The FSA research explodes the myth that the portion size oftraditional and standard foodproducts has increased. It also shows that industry has responded to consumer needs by providing a choice of pack sizes and formats to suit any eating occasion."​ Ongoing works​The report and the workshop are by no means the final word from the FSA on portion sizes. Corinne Vaughn, deputy head of nutrition at the agency, said: "The evidence relating to portion size, energy intake and weight gain is complex and evolving."​ She said more meetings will take place in the autumn, to discuss the next, practical steps with the food industry and public health and consumer groups. "Based on the findings of this preliminary survey, it is recommended that further analysis and monitoring of portion sizes be considered,"​ said the report authors.

Related topics: Reformulation, Market Trends

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