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The Choices Programme has contributed to the development of healthier food products

July 19th, 2012

New research in the Netherlands shows that nutrition logos have stimulated the food industry to make their products healthier, especially when it comes to decreasing salt and increasing fibre.

Nutrition labels can help consumers make healthier food purchases, but they can also encourage companies to develop healthier products, according to research presented this week at the World Congress of Public Health Nutrition in Porto, Portugal. The study of nutrition scientists from the VU University Amsterdam showed that the food manufacturers in the Dutch Choices Programme have either developed new products or reformulated old ones to meet the product criteria.

Researchers surveyed 47 food manufacturers that participate in the programme to find out the extent to which their Choices-compliant products were developed to meet the product criteria. The results showed that the companies had significantly reduced salt in certain product groups including meats, sandwiches, soups and sandwich fillings. Dietary fibre was increased in most newly developed product groups. Saturated fatty acids, added sugar and calories were substantially reduced in reformulated as well as newly-developed dairy products. Calories were especially cut down in reformulated dairy products, sandwich fillings and some newly developed snacks.

To date, this is the largest study to investigate the effect of a nutrition logo on the food industry’s actions around healthy product development. The analysis was also recently published online in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity 2010.

“This is encouraging news,” says Professor Jaap Seidell from the VU University Amsterdam, Chairman of the Choices Scientific Committee and one of the study authors. “These findings give clear evidence that the programme is really making headway in one of its key focus areas, to stimulate industry to make healthier options more available.”

In addition, the scientific development of the Choices product criteria is also presented at the congress in Porto by Annet JC Roodenburg, a researcher from the VU University Amsterdam.

For more information:
Dr. Leon Jansen
Secretary of the International Scientific Committee
Tel. +31 653 849 179

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A single food choice logo for The Netherlands

July 19th, 2012

Stichting Ik Kies Bewust (the Dutch affiliate of the Choices International Foundation) and the Albert Heijn supermarket chain have agreed to start using a single national food choice logo. Albert Heijn’s Keuze Klavertje (Choice cloverleaf) and the Ik Kies Bewust stamp (Dutch Choices stamp) have therefore been combined to form a new food choice logo for The Netherlands, which will be gradually introduced over the course of 2011.

Two years ago, discussions aimed at creating a single logo for The Netherlands began between Stichting Ik Kies Bewust and Albert Heijn. Now, with Albert Heijn’s affiliation to Stichting Ik Kies Bewust (a cooperation between supermarkets, manufacturers and foodservice companies) and the combination of their two existing logos, an approximate 6600 Dutch products will carry the new stamp.

This new stamp will not only enable consumers to make healthy selections more easily and rapidly, but will also encourage supermarkets, caterers and manufacturers to further improve their products. The basic principle of the new stamp remains the same: the fat, salt, sugar energy and dietary fibre content of products carrying the stamp have been evaluated.

The new stamp will have two variations: green and blue

The green stamp with ‘gezondere keuze‘ (healthy choice) represents the healthy choice within a category of basic products. These basic products – including bread, milk, fruit and vegetables – are essential to a healthy diet. The blue stamp with ‘bewuste keuze’ (conscious choice) helps to select healthier options within non-basic product categories, including soups, sauces and snacks.

Ultimately, both variations of the stamp help consumers to make more informed choices within all product groups – from meat and bread to snacks and sauces. This in turn encourages healthier product innovation within the entire range of available food products.

Netherlands Nutrition Centre
Products carrying the new stamp must meet a set of nutritional criteria. These have been developed by an independent Scientific Committee and are aligned with the official Dutch Guidelines for Food Choice published by the Netherlands Nutrition Centre. As Boudewijn Breedveld, Interim Director of the Centre states: “Clear dietary information is of vital importance to consumers, and this has been achieved with the harmonisation of the criteria and the single logo.”

For more information, in Dutch, please visit the website of Stichting Ik Kies Bewust

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5th annual Nutrition & Lifestyle Conference sponsored by Choices

July 19th, 2012

The 5th annual Nutrition & Lifestyle Conference was held on 2-3 March in Brussels, with the Choices Programme as one of the sponsors. Top level speakers from industry, EU institutions and NGOs engaged in a lively and interactive discussion about various themes relating to obesity and nutrition in Europe, as well as important issues in terms of policy, including advertising, labeling, nutrient profiling and health claims. Ellis Vyth, researcher at the VU University Amsterdam, presented a study on the impact of the Choices stamp, concluding that it plays a vital role in promoting healthier product development.

You can find the sheets from Ellis Vyth’s presentation here.

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