• A POSTnote on reformulation of food products will examine the technical issues that it raises for the food sector and review the progress made to date in the UK.
  • It will compare the effectiveness of different policy approaches (such as voluntary agreements versus fiscal measures) and assess the evidence linking reformulation with the anticipated public health benefits at the population level.
  • To contribute expertise, literature or an external reviewer please email Dr Peter Border.

The food industry is under increasing pressure to alter the composition of certain processed food products to improve their health profile (a process known as reformulation). Key targets of such reformulation include reducing the levels of fats, sugar and salt in processed food. Recent UK policy initiatives to encourage reformulation include both voluntary agreements with industry (to reduce sugar and salt levels) and fiscal measures such as the soft drinks industry levy. However, reducing levels of ingredients such as fats, sugar and salt represents a challenge for the food industry. This is because these ingredients may each contribute to key characteristics of the food product in question. For example, salt and sugar are often used to enhance taste and to extend shelf-life, while fats often contribute to a product’s texture and other sensory properties. So, the challenge facing the food industry is to reformulate existing products to reduce levels of fats, sugar and salt while maintaining the essential characteristics of the original product.  

A POSTnote on reformulation could examine the technical issues that it raises for the food sector, review the progress made to date in the UK, compare the effectiveness of different policy approaches (such as voluntary agreements versus fiscal measures) and assess the evidence linking reformulation with the anticipated public health benefits at the population level.