Dutch consumers association Consumentenbond is calling on the next government to make sure that real efforts are made to reduce the amount of salt, sugar and fat in processed food.
‘The agreement from 2014 has delivered little,’ Consumentenbond chief Sandra Molenaar said. ‘Our tests have shown repeatedly that few advances have been made. Vegaburgers, pea soup and stocks are too salty, sate sauce and meal replacements are too sweet and frozen pizzas are still too fatty.’
The organisation’s tests show that it is possible to produce food products without using too much salt, sugar and fat but ‘there is little pressure on manufacturers to do so,’ Molenaar said.
‘Politicians must now take action,’ she said. ‘We need tough, legal standards for every product group and food companies which don’t cooperate should be tackled. And then, finally, it will be possible for consumers to take in less salt, sugar and saturated fats.’
The health ministry is currently working on a new strategy to generate improvements which will run for the next 10 years.
In February, an alliance between Unicef, Amsterdam city council and four health charities called on the next cabinet to get tough on unhealthy eating and the over-use of sugar, salt and fats.
The four groups – which focus on diabetes, heart disease, liver disease and kidney problems – are all signatories to the government’s 2018 ‘national prevention agreement’, which focuses on food industry self-regulation, but now say not enough is being done.
‘The ambitions were good but the measures too weak,’ Tom Oostrom, director of the kidney charity Nierstichting told Trouw at the time. ‘13,000 people die a year because of poor diet, making it the second most important avoidable cause of death, next to smoking.’
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