Food Product Reformulation

The Minister of Health has recently announced plans for food reformulation in Ireland, with the launch of “A Roadmap for Food Reformulation in Ireland”. 1 Food reformulation is defined as “changing the nutrient content of a processed food product to either reduce the content of negative nutrients such as sodium, saturated fat, trans fat or energy (kilojoules) or to increase the content of beneficial nutrients such as dietary fibre, wholegrains, fruit, vegetables and unsaturated fats”. 2

The link between diet and health is well established 3 and poor diet has been shown to be the major contributing factor to premature death and chronic disease in Ireland. 4 Foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) are consumed by 60% of the Irish population over the age of 15 every day, with 42% eating more than 6 portions daily. 5

A major public health challenge to improving diet at a population level is changing consumer behaviour, and the food choices consumers make at an individual level. However there is evidence to support that reformulation of commonly consumed processed foods provides an opportunity to improve population health, and may even help to address health inequalities. 6 Reformulating everyday foods has the potential to affect a large percentage of the population without the need to change consumer behaviour. 7

The Irish Food Industry has worked on reformulation for many years now, but the reformulation of food products can be a challenge. Some of these nutrients have functional properties for example the preservative, sensory and textural functions of salt. 8 Food technology provides us with some solutions to these challenges, but the research and development required can be an obstacle, especially for smaller companies.

If you are interested in reformulation, feel free to get in touch with us at MET to find out more and how we might be able to support your business.

References and further information:

  1. https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/ea90e-ministers-donnelly-and-feighan-announce-significant-plans-to-reduce-levels-of-salt-sugar-saturated-fats-and-calories-in-processed-foods/#
  2. Department of Health (2021) A Roadmap for Food Product Reformulation in Ireland. OPIOG Oversight Group. Available from: https://www.gov.ie/en/policy-information/98c139-combatting-obesity/ Accessed: 14/12/21
  3. World Health Organization, 2014. Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2014 (No. WHO/NMH/NVI/15.1). World Health Organization.
  4. GBD 2017 Diet Collaborators. Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990–2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. Lancet 2019; 393: 1958–72
  5. Healthy Ireland Survey 2018. Available from: https://www.hse.ie/eng/about/who/healthwellbeing/healthy-ireland/publications/healthy-ireland-survey-2018.pdf
  6. National Heart Foundation of Australia (2012) Effectiveness of food reformulation as a strategy to improve population health.
  7. Winkler, J.T., 2013. Brutal pragmatism on food. BMJ: British Medical Journal (Online)346.
  8. Buttriss, J.L., 2013. Food reformulation: the challenges to the food industry. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society72(1), pp.61-69.
  9. Lehmann, U., Charles, V.R., Vlassopoulos, A., Masset, G. and Spieldenner, J., 2017. Nutrient profiling for product reformulation: public health impact and benefits for the consumer. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society76(3), pp.255-264.
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