April 26th, 2017
On 20 April, the Healthier Choices logo of Malaysia has been launched by Malaysia’s deputy Minister of Health, Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya. He said that the logo will facilitate consumers in identifying more healthy products in each food category. This logo is based on the same principles as the Choices labeling program and many other positive voluntary labelling programs around the world. It has been developed under leadership of the Malaysian health authorities, in close collaboration with the food industry and Choices International. This new logo is welcomed as a valuable tool to combat obesity and non-communicable diseases in Malaysia. At the launching day 42 products of 18 companies received the approval to bear this logo on-pack. More industries are invited to follow this example in providing an environment that supports healthy nutrition practices.
After Thailand, Singapore and Brunei this is the fourth ASEAN country with a national voluntary positive labeling program with a strong role of the national government. More countries are expected to follow.
March 15th, 2017
Member companies reformulated more than 180,000 products in 2016
With the release of its 2016 Health & Wellness Progress Report, the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) announced that more than 180,000 products were reformulated in 2016 by their member companies, responding to the CGF Health & Wellness Resolutions. This is more than twice the number of reformulated products that CGF reported in 2015. Food and beverage reformulations focused primarily on sodium and sugar reduction, as well as the addition of whole grains and vitamins. Also in the report were personal care and hygiene product categories, which targeted the removal of parabens.
This year’s report also focused on community engagement. More than 30,000 communities worldwide were reached through health and wellness programs, most of them in partnership with community stakeholders. Choices applauds the CGF and its member companies for these inspiring results and extensive monitoring, showing industry taking responsibility for health. We encourage further food and beverage reformulation and community engagement on diet and healthy lifestyle to contribute to comprehensive efforts on NCD prevention and reduction.
The CGF press release can be found here.
March 9th, 2017
We noted six companies (Coca-Cola, Mars, Mondelez, Nestle, Unilever, PepsiCo) announced the formation of a working group to work towards a common interpretative labelling scheme across Europe that builds upon the current UK hybrid labelling scheme and integrates portion sizes. See http://evolvednutritionlabel.eu/ Choices International welcomes advances on front-of-pack labelling schemes as a way to make healthy choices easy. We will follow these discussions and outcomes with interest within the wider evidence on nutrition labelling that is emerging. Choices/ acknowledges the different roles foods and beverages play in the diets, each eaten in different quantities and with varied frequencies. That is why the Choices International Scientific Committee set product-group specific criteria that guide consumers to choose more healthy options while stimulating manufacturers to reformulate towards these challenging standards. Positive logos are the most widely applied and researched FOP labelling scheme in Europe and globally. With our members, we will continue to drive positive changes to help governments, health organizations, manufacturers and consumers achieving healthier diets.
December 14th, 2016
Today, Choices International issued criteria for total sugar. These criteria come next to the existing criteria for added sugar, and can be used in countries where no added sugar data are available.
The Choices criteria for product groups give maximum levels for sodium, saturated fat, trans fatty acids, energy and added sugar, as well as minimum levels for dietary fiber. While working in more and more countries, the Choices International Scientific Committee concluded that the use of the Choices criteria is often limited because data on added sugar are not available. In contrast, data on total sugar are much more widely available. To address this need, the International Scientific Committee derived total sugar levels by calculating the added sugar criteria plus total levels of naturally-occurring sugar in all relevant product group.
The added sugar criteria remain the norm; only in cases that added sugar data are not available, can the total sugar criteria be used.
Going a Step Further
While discussing the sugar criteria, the Committee concluded that a further decrease of sugar levels in several product groups is needed to keep pace with current developments and demands, and to maintain its leading role within the nutrient profiling dialogue. Because the previous criteria revision took place recently, the Committee decided to present these new criteria as commitments for the next criteria revision that will take place in 2018. These future sugar criteria (both on added and on total sugar) are added to the 2015 international criteria in separate tables and will go into effect with the next criteria revision.
Click here for the updated criteria set (PDF).
More information: firstname.lastname@example.org
October 20th, 2016
This week the Dutch Minister of Health Edith Schippers has decided to substitute the use of the Dutch Choices logo by a smartphone app. The use of the Dutch logo will be terminated in October 2017. The Dutch Choices Foundation “Ik Kies Bewust” (IKB) will use this one year transition time to develop new ways to drive reformulation and consumer education on healthier choices.
This step is part of a broader process of renewal of healthy food policies. The Minister strongly supports reformulation, as is shown in the Road Map for Product Improvement that has been issued during the Dutch EU presidency early 2016. Both the Minister and the IKB Foundation want to build further on the good results of ten years of logo use in The Netherlands. Scientific studies have shown that this logo and its underlying criteria have been an effective driver for product improvement. In ten years time, the criteria have been adapted three times. This has caused a further decrease of sugar, salt and saturated fat in hundreds of products. In addition, 95% of the Dutch adults are aware of the logo, which has a 93% coverage of the Dutch retail market.
Finally, the Dutch government has decided to develop a comprehensive database on food information. This should also include the nutrition data per product. A database like this is indispensible both for consumer education by the app and for the monitoring of product improvement.
This discussion in The Netherlands does not have consequences for the use of the Choices label in other countries. The Choices interactions with countries and international organisations will proceed unchanged.
August 31st, 2016
On 31 August 2016 the Minister of Public Health of Thailand has given the official kick-off for a front-of-pack logo programme that identifies healthier food options per food category. Choices International welcomes this initiative as an important element of the public health actions in Thailand.
Overweight, obesity and related non-communicable diseases as well as a rapid increase in the number of elderly cause growing nutritional problems in Thailand that have affected at least 30% of the population. This can cause huge financial burdens for the country’s health care system.
In 2014 the National Food Committee of Thailand therefore advised to implement a front-of-pack label. The Healthier Choices Nutrition Symbol was then developed with the agreement of food companies, academics and the public sector.
The logo is owned by the Thai Food & Drug Administration, which assigned the Nutrition Promotion Foundation of the Mahidol University, to manage the symbol’s use.
Intended to cover all food products, the logo now can be applied to ready-to-eat meals, beverages, dairy products, sauces, instant noodles and snacks. Other food groups will follow. From the start already 56 products are certified and 15 food companies have joined the programme.
Thailand participates in a regional forum consisting of representatives from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, and China, as well as experts from the Choices International Foundation, in order to create more coherence in the national criteria within the ASEAN region.
Choices International cordially welcomes this logo initiative with which it closely cooperates and that might represent an example for more countries in the ASEAN region.
August 23rd, 2016
Choices International has been informed about the advice of the Dutch Choices Foundation “Ik Kies Bewust” to the Dutch Ministry of Health about the future of the blue and green Dutch Choices logo “het Vinkje”.
Choices International greatly appreciates the accomplishments of the Dutch Choices programme; it has a high consumer awareness, retail coverage and number of logo bearing products. Impact assessment shows that the labelling programme leads to a high level of product reformulation across all product groups.
While respecting the autonomy of the national Choices organisations, the board of the Choices Foundation regrets the advice to the Minister to end the use of the “blue Vinkje” logo and to use a logo only in a limited set of product groups. The Choices labelling programme aims at covering the whole food supply by indicating the best in class options in each food group, which has been a effective strategy to stimulate reformulation across the board.
The actions by Choices International to promote healthier food options around the world will continue relentlessly. Guiding food manufacturers in making their product portfolio healthier is an essential element in these actions. Therefore Choices International offers its support to start a new initiative for reformulation and consumer friendly labelling in The Netherlands, as advised by the Dutch Foundation ‘Ik Kies Bewust’. The Choices principles might be used as a starting point for this reformulation initiative: to include all food groups, voluntary, positive and in collaboration.
About Choices International
The Choices International Foundation, established in 2007, is a global program to foster and promote healthy food to prevent non-communicable diseases and obesity by means of reformulation, education and positive front-of-pack labelling. The Choices programme is present in six countries and it works together with experts in many areas in the world to start more of such labelling programmes. Its criteria for healthier food are determined by panels of independent leading scientists and its implementation is based on collaboration between government, science and industry.