Mars boss concedes that 'mandatory' sugar, fat and salt targets may be needed in UK

Mars Food has hinted that it may eventually back laws to help Brits to cut back on the sugar, fat and salt in their meals.

According to the Times, the firm's global president of food, drinks, and multisales, Fiona Dawson said that although she wanted to industry to try and voluntarily make products healthier and provide clear nutritional information for consumers, that mandory targets may need to come into play if changes did not happen fast enough.

“I do think over a period of time there can be a role for mandatory targets. We have had this in other areas, whether it is food safety or personal safety,” she said.

Her comments follow a warning issued by the brand that some of its Dolmio pasta sauce and Uncle Ben’s rice products should only be consumed once a week due to the high levels of salt, sugar and fat they contain.

The food manufacturer is in the process of updating its packaging and website over the coming months to distinguish between ‘everyday’ and ‘occasional’ items as part of its drive to promote healthier living. It estimates that five per cent of its range will incur an ‘occasional’ recommendation.

Dawson said consumers already realised products such as chocolate were an occasional treat, but added that the brand wanted to clear up the information it presents on main meals: “Consumers have becoming increasingly confused about what is healthy and what is not healthy. We need to step in and ensure that we deliver the transparency they say that they are looking for," she said.

Last month, chancellor George Osborne unveiled a new sugar tax for soft drink brands selling high sugar products, like Coca-Cola. The proposed scheme will fine drinks giants on the volume of sugar-sweetened products they make or import at the rate of 18p and 24p a litre.

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