Targets set by Public Health England to cut the sugar in confectionary could see some sweets disappear off the shelves altogether, a think tank has warned, saying the move could constitute “the largest extension of state control over the British diet since rationing”.
The report by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a free market think tank, is set to reveal that boiled sweets, Sherbet Lemons, Parma Violets, and other treats which are made almost entirely of sugar could fall foul of government regulations that aim for confectionary to be less than 50 per cent sugar, reports The Telegraph.
Bassett’s Licorice Allsorts and Jelly Babies, comprised of two-thirds sugar, are also at risk, and fudge, which is made of sugar, butter, and cream, could be doubly at risk because efforts to reduce the two-thirds sugar could result in increased fat — also against PHE’s plans.
Author of the IEA report Cooking for Bureaucrats Josie Appleton called the measures “beyond Orwellian” and criticised them as an “infantile” way to treat British consumers.
Ms Appleton wrote in The Telegraph that while the 50 per cent sugar cap is not compulsory, “it is not really voluntary either, with strong pressure and constant veiled threats of legislation if companies do not comply”.
“Public Health England, in their bid to improve the health of the nation, have decided people shouldn’t be allowed to make choices about their own diet and instead companies should be coerced and shamed into making food to please them, and not the customer,” Ms Appleton wrote, revealing there are a “baffling” near-300 PHE food targets.
“The programme covers not just ‘unhealthy’ foods like crisps and chocolates, but also foods that people would consider healthy, such as boxed salads, nut butters, or olive ciabatta. Very few items escape their grasp. Officials even made recommendations for the amount of milk that should be in tea, and are monitoring the sugar content of whole fruit juice,” she explained.
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Last year, PHE revealed draft guidelines telling restaurants and supermarkets to shrink the size of pizzas and remove toppings to meet drastic calorie reduction recommendations.
The warning by the IEA comes after Action on Sugar and Action on Salt called on the government to introduce a “calorie tax” following the introduction of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy in April 2018, which added between 18p to 24p tax per litre to the cost of soft drinks (soda).
There have been other calls to radically regulate the intake of sugar, calories, and even meat. In 2018, researchers at the University of Oxford called on the government to introduce a cigarette-style sin tax on meat, increasing the cost of red meat by 14 per cent and processed meat by 79 per cent.
The Nanny State Index ranked the UK in 2019 as one of the “least free” countries to eat, drink, smoke, or vape in in Europe.
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