LONDON – Mars Food plans to label some of its Dolmio pasta sauces, macaroni cheese and other products as fit for consumption only once a week due to high levels of salt, sugar or fat.
The scheme is part of a larger initiative by the privately held U.S. food company to encourage healthier eating at a time when large food multinationals, or Big Food, are coming under increasing pressure from public health advocates and regulators struggling to fight a growing obesity epidemic.
The plan, however, does not extend to Mars' chocolate or sweets businesses, whose brands include M&M's, Snickers and Starburst.
Products that are particularly high in salt, sugar or fat, including Dolmio lasagne meal kits and lasagne sauces, will come with a label advising "occasional" consumption, meaning once a week. However, the company said most of its products in the UK would still be for consumption everyday. It did not give details for other countries but plans to introduce the labeling in all markets where those products are sold.
Nearly all packaged food makers are reformulating products as they try to keep up with changing tastes of increasingly health-conscious consumers.
Mars Food, which also produces Uncle Ben's rice, said it plans to post on its website within the next few months a list of "occasional" products, and "everyday" products, including ones to be reformulated over the next five years to reduce sodium, sugar or fat.
It has also set targets to reduce sodium and sugar in some products and boost the use of whole grains and vegetables.
Some countries including Britain, France and Mexico have announced levies on sugar-sweetened drinks, while others are considering them.