In less than three months the Netherlands will take over the Presidency of the European Union. Among its priorities, the Dutch Presidency has the intention to push for an EU approach to product reformulation and composition. IMACE will track this development, since reformulation means looking at ways to reduce salt, fat and sugar content in foods.
What is the political situation today? In the Netherlands, the government has a voluntary agreement with the food chain to improve the nutritional composition of foods and drinks by 2020. Yet, farmers take no part in this agreement. At EU level, stakeholders also prefer a voluntary agreement, because it would serve best both the EU health objectives and the principles of the internal market.
The Dutch Presidency will tackle the goal of setting a level-playing field in this political context. It is expected to organize a conference in Amsterdam in February on the topic of food reformulation, where it should unveil more details and next steps.
To inform and prepare its members, IMACE is planning to take part to the Amsterdam Conference. IMACE and its members have always paid a lot of attention to optimal formulation and innovation. In the context of the upcoming discussions on the topic, it is important to reiterate the efforts that the margarine sector has been carrying out in this field since the 1980’s. To name a few of the efforts: the total fat content of margarines and vegetable spreads has lowered; overall saturated fatty acid content is reduced in favour of increased unsaturated fatty acids; Margarines are virtually free from trans fatty acids; Vitamin A & D have been added to margarines; several margarines and vegetable oil spreads are enriched with Omega-3 fatty acids. And so on… the list is long.
Today, all these efforts have resulted in a large range of healthy plant based fat sources, which allows consumers to optimize the quantity and the quality of their fat intake. The most significant further health gain concerning the fat intake in the diet can be obtained by replacing saturated fatty acids with unsaturated fatty acids. Consumers should be aware of the continuous efforts of the margarine sector to achieve that goal. For IMACE, optimal product formulation should go hand in hand with education & correct information so that consumers can make the right choices to get a balanced and healthy diet.