Top firms sign up to slash calories from foods

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Major firms including Coca-Cola, Subway and Tesco have pledged to cut calories from foods to help tackle obesity, the Health Secretary said yesterday.

Seventeen companies, including supermarkets, food manufacturers and food outlets, have signed a new “calorie reduction pledge” as part of the Government’s responsibility deal.

Andrew Lansley said the agreement, involving more than three-quarters of the retail market, would help cut “five billion calories” from the nation’s diet every day.

He added: “Eating and drinking too many calories is at the heart of the nation’s obesity problem.”

Those signed up include Asda, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose, Coca-Cola Great Britain, Kerry Foods, Kraft, Mars, Nestle, PepsiCo, Premier Foods, Unilever, Beefeater (part of Whitbread), Subway and contract caterer Compass.

Under the pledge, Asda will develop a new reduced-calorie brand that will contain at least 30 per cent fewer calories than its Chosen By You brand.

Coca-Cola will reduce the calories in some of its soft drinks by at least 30 per cent by 2014 while Mars will cap the number of calories in its chocolate to 250 per portion by the end of 2013.

Meanwhile, Morrisons has pledged to launch a range of more than 300 healthier products.

And Premier Foods, which makes Ambrosia, Batchelors, Hovis, Loyd Grossman, Mr Kipling, Angel Delight and Sharwood’s, will reduce calories in a third of its sales by the end of 2014.

Some 30 per cent of new products will also be “lower calorie choices”, according to the Department of Health.

Subway now offers five out of its nine low-fat subs, each with fewer than 370 calories, as part of its £3 lunch offer.

And Tesco is also “on track” to remove 1.8 billion calories from its soft drinks and will expand its Eat, Live, Enjoy range.

Mr Lansley said: “This pledge is just the start of what must be a bigger, broader commitment from the food industry.

Chef Jamie Oliver said the strategy was “worthless, regurgitated, patronising rubbish”, adding: “Simply telling people what they already know – that they need to eat less and move more – is a complete cop out.”