Government pursues saturated fats reduction agreement with meat industry

By Gerard O’Dwyer, in Helsinki

- Last updated on GMT

The Norwegian government wants to encourage the meat industry to reduce the amount of sat fat in its products
The Norwegian government wants to encourage the meat industry to reduce the amount of sat fat in its products

Related tags: Nutrition

The Norwegian government’s Healthier Food Choices campaign has shifted focus to reducing the saturated fat content in meat and dairy products.

The new drive is connected to an anti-obesity project run by the ministry of health (MoH), and will involve round-table talks in the third quarter of 2015, with core industry players operating in the production, processing and product sale segments of the food market in Norway.

The action follows the agreement struck last October (2014) between the government and the Norway food industry to reduce the salt content in meat. The same industry players are engaged in the MoH-run Healthier Food Choices project.

"We have worked successfully with the meat industry and processing companies to lower the salt content in the foods we eat. We are confident that a similar level of collaboration with industry will result in the reduction of saturated fats in meat and other food products,"​ said Bent Høie, Norway’s health and care services minister.

The campaign will feature two principal layers of action by the government. The primary section will involve establishing an industry-wide agreement on reducing the amount of saturated fats in food products sold in Norway. The second segment will result in a nationwide and multi-channel health education campaign targeting students and adults.

The Norwegian saturated fats reduction initiative is certain to have implications for the Nordic Keyhole scheme, launched across Scandinavia in 2010. The scheme, which is jointly run by Norway, Sweden and Denmark, encourages meat and processed food producers to attach the recognised Scandinavia-wide Nordic Keyhole nutrition label to all products. The Keyhole provides dietary information regarding saturated fat, fat, salt, fibre and sugar content in foods.

To display the Nordic Keyhole label, companies must ensure products contain lower agreed levels of salt and sugar, healthier fats, and higher levels of whole grains and fibre than comparable products.

Meanwhile, the MoH’s latest saturated fat initiative is supported by the food industry, said Håkon Mageli, a spokesman for Orkla, a leading meats and processed foods group in Norway.

"Orkla plans to double the number of Keyhole products we sell. Today we have 11 such products. Our goal is that, in 2016, we will have around 22. We also plan to carry out a review of our food categories to identify what products can be improved from a healthier eating point of view,"​ said Mageli.

Høie wants the round-table talks to deliver a stronger commitment by meat processing and other food companies to embrace Nordic Keyhole in a more robust way. "I would like to see more activity in the area of product development and marketing,"​ said Høie. The first session in the round-table dialogue is expected to take place in August, including senior representatives from leading manufacturers, supermarket chains, as well as health and food research organisations.

Related topics: Meat

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