Despite significant progress towards sugar reduction in the United Kingdom (UK) cereal sector, advocacy groups are still concerned about the sugar content in children’s cereals. Action on Sugar is a UK watchdog organization that focuses on issues related to sugar consumption and health. Over the past five years, breakfast cereals in the UK have seen more than a 14% reduction in sugar levels. However, the reduction is still below the 20% target set by the government’s sugar reduction program. Action on Sugar is calling for a ban on child-friendly packaging for products with medium to high levels of sugar, salt, and / or fat.
Currently there is a loophole in the UK’s HFSS (high fat, sugar, and salt) regulations that restrict the advertising of “unhealthy” foods targeted at children because packaging is not addressed. Bright colors and cartoon characters often appear on products aimed at children. Consumer advocacy groups are pushing for increased restrictions around HFSS foods, particularly for children. Food industry representatives say that they have made great strides in sugar reduction and point to multiple reformulations.
In addition to the UK, sugar intake is an issue throughout the global food industry. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that it will hold virtual public meetings and listening sessions to discuss strategies for reducing sugar intake.
Impact Statement: With obesity on the rise globally, sugar reduction initiatives exist in over 60 countries. Breakfast cereal isn’t the only product that may contain excessive amounts of sugar, and other items such as soda, yogurt and processed foods have also been targeted by consumer advocacy groups. There is little doubt that consumers crave sweet products, but the recent controversy related to artificial sweeteners means that food and beverage companies have much work ahead of them in terms of balancing taste with safety, regulatory compliance, and consumer preference.
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Julie Holt, Director, Global Advisory Services
Julie Holt is a subject matter expert in the areas of food and beverage, additives, and regulatory strategy. She has beverage industry expertise and currently provides consulting support across multiple beverage categories. Ms. Holt has more than 25+ years of regulatory experience in the food and food ingredients industries and managed her own advisory firm, Scientific & Regulatory Solutions LLC, prior to joining FoodChain ID. As a consultant, Julie supported several food and beverage clients including a Fortune 50 company. Julie has provided global regulatory knowledge covering more than 200 countries. Her consulting efforts have supported global regulatory needs, R&D projects, sustainability goals, and innovation initiatives. Julie holds a Bachelor of Science in biology (emphasis in cellular / molecular biology) and organic chemistry and a master’s certificate in international food law from Michigan State University. She has also completed 30 hours of graduate studies in comparative biology and genetics and continues graduate studies, currently in pharmacology and clinical chemistry courses.