Supporting Healthy Choices: A Framework for Voluntary Action

This framework sets out the action we believe is necessary to shape and better support healthier diets in Scotland.

Healthier food and drink formulation

60. Consuming excess calories, fats, salt and sugar, contributes to our increasing levels of overweight and obesity and the risk of serious conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Therefore, our aim is to reduce both salt and calories in the Scottish diet. An accompanying background paper[20] is available which sets out the case for reformulation and related changes required to reduce calories and the nutrients of public health concern (fats, salt and sugar). We need to shift the balance of food and drink available towards healthier products to support healthier diets and achievement of the Scottish Dietary Goals[21].


61. Salt reductions may be made across a wide range of food categories, in accordance with agreed UK salt targets which are set for achievement by 2017[22].This sets out salt reductions across 76 separate food categories. We invite the food industry to build upon their significant achievements in relation to the 2012 targets by now working toward the new 2017 targets.


62. Reducing calories is an imperative. While we welcome the many positive contributions made by the food and drink industry with respect to reformulation, there is still more that can be achieved. Calorie reduction, through reductions in fats and sugars in commonly consumed products, is an important public health priority. This may be undertaken in a variety of different ways and we welcome all types of activity. We have set out a number of actions that may be considered across all food and drink categories and also in relation to specific categories.

63. We do however recognise that for some food and drink businesses reformulation priorities can be set around a year in advance. We therefore invite businesses to take account of our aim to reduce calories and salt, as set out in this framework, to help inform their future reformulation priorities.

64. Reformulation can offer immediate benefit to the consumer without requiring a change to usual food and drink intake. We understand the need to bring consumers with us and we recognise that a step by step approach is necessary. We also appreciate that it may take time for some businesses to deliver the level of change we are seeking.

65. Where possible, reductions in one nutrient should not be accompanied by increased levels of other nutrients of public health concern.

66. Where appropriate, consideration should also be given to the nutritional composition of budget range products to help ensure that consumers of these are not nutritionally disadvantaged.

67. The actions taken will vary depending on the nature of the business. Helpful practical guidance on reformulation can be found on the IGD website[23].

68. We recognise that reformulation brings specific challenges for small businesses. Therefore, by end 2014, the Scottish Food and Drink Federation, together with Scottish Government and FSA Scotland, will provide advice, including practical examples of how small businesses can contribute to our reformulation aims.

Commitment 12

We invite all food industry businesses across manufacture, retail and catering to work towards reducing calories, fats, salt and added sugars.

For example, by taking action (with a focus on standard[24] products) on one or more of the following:

  • Reformulation of standard manufactured products
  • Sourcing healthier products
  • Creation of new healthier products and recipes
  • Progress towards achievement of the revised salt targets
  • Reductions in portion size of standard products

Calorie reduction: standard products

69. We are looking for calorie reduction as follows:


To reduce overall calories (through reduction in fats and sugars) in standard products across a wide range of food and drink categories.

Through, for example:

  • Reductions in fats and/or sugars
  • Reductions in portion size.

Calorie reduction: specific food and drink categories

70. The following sections highlight specific categories of food and drink where reformulation is likely to have the greatest impact on public health, particularly when applied to standard or commonly consumed food and drink products within each category.

Soft drinks with added sugars

71. The soft drinks industry has recently made positive changes that have increased the availability of drinks containing less added sugars. The increased use of sweeteners in standard products has contributed to this. Other welcome developments include a decrease in the overall calorie and added sugars content across product portfolios as well as increased availability of smaller portion sizes in the marketplace (e.g. single portion sizes of 250mls).


To reduce the overall calories (through reduction in sugars) from soft drinks.

Through, for example:

  • Further reductions in the sugar content of soft drinks.
  • Increasing availability of smaller single serve portion sizes of soft drinks with added sugars.

Biscuits, confectionery, cakes, sweet pies and pastries

72. Many companies have made considerable progress in reformulating biscuits, cakes and pastries to meet the salt targets. Some have also made progress in reductions in saturated fat and calories. We acknowledge that there are technical challenges associated with reducing saturated fat. Practical guidance on how to reduce saturated fat in biscuits and cakes is available from Campden BRI[25]. In addition to reducing fats, there is also opportunity to reduce sugars in some products.


To reduce overall calories (through reduction in fats and sugars).

Through, for example:

  • Further reductions in calories through reduction in fats and/or sugars.
  • Decreasing portion sizes of standard products, especially where reformulation may be problematic.

Meat pies and pastries

73. Reformulation to reduce fats in pastry can pose technical challenges. Despite this, some companies have managed to reduce calorie and saturated fat content of their products.


To reduce the overall calories in meat pies and pastries (through reduction in fats).

Through, for example:

  • Substitution of high fat fillings with additional vegetable content.
  • Using less pastry.
  • Reformulation of pastry, where technically possible.
  • Decreasing portion size of meat pies and pastries.

Sausages and burgers

74. Some producers have developed sausages and burgers that are lower in calories and fats. We welcome this innovation, particularly within standard product ranges.


To reduce the overall calories in sausages and burgers (through reduction in fats)

Through, for example:

  • Reducing calories through reductions in fats.
  • Decreasing portion sizes.

Dairy products

75. The use of lower fat milk and milk products in the marketplace is now widespread. Calorie reduction has also been achieved by reductions in fats and added sugars and by reducing portion sizes in some products. However, there is still scope for lower fat dairy products to be used more widely in the manufacture of dishes.


To reduce overall calories (through reduction in fats and added sugars) in dairy products.

Through, for example:

  • All actions to develop and make lower fat cheeses more readily available.
  • All actions to reduce calories through reductions in sugars and fats in yoghurts and ice creams.
  • Continued wide availability of low fat milks.
  • Greater use of lower fat dairy products in the preparation and manufacture of dishes.
  • Reductions in portion sizes, where appropriate.

Savoury snacks

76. The savoury snack industry has made considerable progress to reduce levels of saturated fat, predominantly by replacement with unsaturated oils and through use of alternative cooking methods. [26]


To reduce the overall calories through reduction in fats.

Through, for example:

  • Reduction in fats.
  • Greater availability of smaller single serve portions26 of savoury snacks.

Calorie and salt reduction in the out of home setting

77. Out of home caterers have a key role to play in supporting our aim to reduce salt and calories in the Scottish diet, by creating recipes and sourcing products that are lower in calories, fats, salt and sugars.


To reduce the overall calorie and salt in food and drink eaten outside the home.

Through, for example:

  • Development of new lower fat, sugar and salt recipes.
  • Sourcing lower fat, sugar and salt ingredients and pre-made products. Tables 1a and 1b in Annex D provide information about what constitutes high, medium and low levels of these nutrients in food and drinks and may be helpful when sourcing pre-made products.
  • Sourcing ingredients and products consistent with the 2017 UK salt targets.

Improving kitchen practice

78. Making healthy choices when eating out of the home - at work, in cafes, quick service chains, restaurants or pubs - can go a long way to helping us eat an overall healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight. Around 15% of calories consumed come from foods and soft drinks eaten out of the home[27].

79. The Scottish Government's flagship, Scotland-wide catering scheme, the HealthyLiving Award[28] will remain as a key part of our broader out of home catering strategy. In April 2013, the Award moved into NHS Health Scotland. The Award has potential for far greater application across both public and private sectors, and its expansion is a key area of focus for NHS Health Scotland going forward.

Commitment 13

We invite out of home caterers to work towards the HealthyLiving Award on an ongoing basis.

Commitment 14

We invite out of home caterers to make small portions, as well as standard portions, available to all customers where feasible, and to ensure that soft drinks with added sugar are available in small portions of 250ml or less.

80. We encourage all out of home caterers to apply for the Award, from small cafes and delicatessens to supermarket restaurants and quick service chains. Companies can check the Award's applicability by contacting the Healthy Living Award Team[29].

Commitment 15

The Scottish Government and FSA Scotland will develop support for small out of home caterers, where it is recognised that the HealthyLiving Award may not be suitable, during 2014.

81. We will provide support for small out of home catering businesses, such as takeaway establishments, where we recognise the Award can be more challenging. Our support will help businesses towards the broad aims of the Award, taking steps toward full accreditation where feasible, and supporting nutritional information provision for consumers.

82. The public sector, and in particular the Scottish Government estate and NHS sites, should always be an exemplar in healthier food provision. The Scottish Government will set the highest standards wherever it has direct control over catering arrangements. We will also look to the broader public sector across Scotland to put in place catering provision that is healthy and nutritious, while remaining environmentally sustainable.

83. The Scottish Government will publish reports annually summarising Award registrations and accreditations.

Commitment 16

The Scottish Government will maximise uptake of the HealthyLiving Award across the public sector. For example, we will:

  • work towards 100% compliance with the more demanding Plus format of the Award across the Scottish Government estate and NHS sites, for all staff restaurants, coffee shops and on-site catering
  • work with the Scottish Parliament to implement the HealthyLiving Award and more demanding Plus format across the Parliament building
  • work with COSLA and local authorities to implement the basic level Award across their sites
  • work with Universities Scotland and Scotland's Colleges, to implement the basic level Award across all further and higher education establishments
  • promote the Award in catering specifications and within businesses around key venues for high-profile, Scottish Government-funded events
  • demonstrate, through research evidence, the economic impact on businesses of the Award and its Plus format.

Commitment 17

The Scottish Government will develop and promote healthier food standards in future guidance for public sector procurement.


Email: Leigh Edwardson

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