Mars to reduce salt and sugar, use 'occasional' food labels in $20M program
- Mars announced earlier this week its adoption of the WHO nutrition guidelines to guide product reformulation, the first major manufacturer to do so.
- Mars has committed to reducing sodium by an additional 20% in five years and reduce added sugar in a limited number of products by 2018. Its Health & Wellbeing Ambition program is expected to cost at least $20 million.
- Mars will label products that contain high levels of sugar, salt, or fat as "occasional" foods as opposed to "everyday" foods.
A new development for the industry is the "occasional" food label. The label could better inform consumers about eating occasions for a particular product. But such a label could also make it more confusing for a consumer who doesn't know the definition of that term.
Sodium reduction has been an industry-wide effort. In its recently released 2016 Global Responsibility Report, General Mills reiterated the company's progress on its sodium reduction goals, having met or exceeded its 20% reduction goal in seven of 10 categories by 2015. Nearly two dozen companies have joined the National Salt Reduction Initiative since its formation in 2009.
Mars has also supported the FDA's upcoming sodium reduction guidelines, though details on those guidelines and when they could be released are not confirmed. The guidelines would likely include voluntary rather than mandatory targets.
Not all in the industry are as supportive of the government's recommendations concerning sodium. The Salt Institute sent a letter this week to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell requesting the removal of the 2,300-mg sodium limit recommended by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, reports Politico.