Tuesday, 8 May 2018
Department of Health
327. To ask the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 1118 and 1121 of 16 January 2018, the status of the work of the subgroup on reformulation; the terms of reference for the group; if a work plan has been agreed by the group; if it will be made available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19957/18]
328. To ask the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 1118 and 1121 of 16 January 2018, when the report on the work of the FSAI to develop baseline data on specific foods (details supplied) will be published; the status of the reformulation work being undertaken by the FSAI; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19958/18]
329. To ask the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 1118 and 1121 of 16 January 2018, the status of the work that has and is taking place in relation to developing and establishing an effective methodology to monitor and evaluate the impact of the sugar sweetened drinks tax; the person or body responsible for same; the stakeholders involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19959/18]
330. To ask the Minister for Health the way in which the subgroup on reformulation will be working with the FSAI on monitoring and validation procedures and setting reformulation targets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19960/18]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 327 to 330, inclusive, together.
The Terms of Reference of the Reformulation sub-group of the Obesity Policy Implementation Oversight Group are:
- To review existing food and drink reformulation targets such as EU and UK targets for salt, saturated fat and added sugars;
- To make recommendations on short-term and long- term food and drink reformulation targets and agree a methodology for choosing food and drink product categories; To explore approaches and make recommendations to address reducing portion sizes;
- To devise a mechanism for engagement and consultation with the Food Industry;
- To consider options for implementing recommendations in particular, monitoring and validation procedures; and
- To report within one year.
The Reformulation Sub-Group has met three times since it was formed. It is in the process of developing a roadmap for progressing its work within its Terms of Reference; and is in particular reviewing existing food and drink reformulation targets such as EU and UK targets for salt, saturated fat and added sugars along with working towards agreeing a methodology for choosing food and drink product categories for the purposes of its work on reformulation.
The Group is also continuing its consideration of mechanisms for consulting with industry. Any report of the Reformulation Sub-Group in line with its Terms of Reference can be made available.
The process for the Reformulation Sub-Group's work with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland on monitoring, validating and setting reformulation targets will be conducted in the context of the FSAI's representative on the membership of the sub-group. But in addition to this representation, my Department liaises with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) on a regular basis. The FSAI has been validating food industry salt reduction work for many years. It has carried out this work by sampling foods from the market and having them analysed in the HSE Public Analysts Laboratory in Galway. This data is published annually and is available on the FSAI website (fsai.ie).
The FSAI is now exploring the validation of food industry sugar and fat reduction work. In the first instance, it generated baseline data on specific foods based on their labelling and a detailed report on this work is imminent. In 2018 the FSAI is validating this baseline data by funding the analysis of breakfast cereal and yoghurts for sugar, fat and salt by an external laboratory.
The National Obesity Policy and Action Plan approved by Government recommended that proposals be developed relating to the roll-out of evidence based fiscal measures, including a levy on sugar-sweetened drinks, in support of healthy eating. As the Deputy is aware, the Sugar-Sweetened Drinks Tax commenced on the 1st of May. It represents a positive step in our national policy to deal with the problem of obesity.
My Department is currently developing proposals for the purposes of conducting an evaluation of the SSD Tax and the work of the Reformulation Sub-Group is likely to feed into a methodology developed for measuring its efficacy.