The Spanish health ministry has partnered with more than 500 food and beverage companies to reduce salt, sugar and fat levels in more than 3,500 products by 2020.
As part of the plan, catering companies will improve the quality of meals offered in schools and hospital cafeterias: processed and fried products will be reduced, and more fish, vegetables and fruit will be offered.
Vending machines will offer between 30% and 50% more “balanced foods” and the maximum amount of added sugar in hot drinks machines will be reduced by 15%.
The announcement follows a similar move by the Lithuanian government, which has united with food manufacturers to reduce salt and sugar content in products instead of introducing a sugar tax.
Spanish health minister Dolors Montserrat said that it is “a pioneering plan to improve the composition of food, promote the health of Spaniards and prevent chronic diseases”.
“The promotion of the health of the Spanish people is our priority, hence the importance of this plan which represents a great leap, not only in the improvement of the products we consume at home, but also in meals we eat out as well as our children’s school meals.
“This plan will serve to address in a direct and effective way the great challenges that lie ahead in the field of health, such as the greater lifespan of people that causes a higher incidence of chronic diseases or obesity.”
Finally, the minister thanked food and drink companies that have signed up to the initiative, as the plan “marks and before and after in Spain, because it is a social as well as a business transformation because the companies that join will invest in constant innovation to achieve healthier products”.
Last year, the Catalan region of Spain introduced a tax on sugary soft drinks in a bid to improve public health. The regional government said the levy could raise as much as €41 million a year. Spanish trade associations and companies consequently urged the Spanish government to repeal the tax.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2021
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