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Will SPD plan forever change soda, pizza?

Rebecca Staudenmaier
January 18, 2018

Comfort food favorites could be in for a recipe change. The SPD is pushing for reductions in sugar, fat and salt in processed foods, as well as a law to enforce the healthy eating measures.

A pizza with jalapenos on top
Image: picture-alliance/Photoshot

Germany's center-left Social Democrats (SPD) are taking aim at the food and beverage industry in an effort to make sweet and savory treats a bit healthier, according to a report published late on Wednesday.

An SPD position paper calls for limits on salt, sugar and fat in processed food, the German daily Bild newspaper reported. The plan received unanimous approval from the SPD's parliamentary group.

Read moreWHO: Curb ads for junk food, sweets and beer to fight obesity

A panel of independent nutrition experts, doctors, health insurance companies as well as health and consumer organizations should establish "binding reduction goals for sugar, salt and fat content," Bild reported, citing the SPD paper.

"Health must take precedence over economic interests," SPD politician Ursula Schulte told the newspaper.

She added that the "national reduction strategy" for processed foods should be inserted into the next coalition agreement with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister-party the Christian Social Union (CSU).

Read moreWhat fats are best in food?

Slimming down fatty foods

The SPD is also pushing for a binding time plan for implementing the sweet, salty and fatty reductions, as well as a law to enforce the plan if companies do not comply.

Similar strategies to roll back sugar, salt or fat in foods and drinks are already in place in several European countries, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Austria and Poland.

Read moreHow sustainably do Germans eat?

"Politics can no longer cave in to the food industry lobby and delay the issue of sugar, salt and fat reduction. The SPD's initiative is, therefore, very welcome," Martin Litsch, the head of health insurance company AOK, told Bild.

The SPD's plan received pushback from the food industry, who said the issue encroaches on the rights of citizens to "enjoy" their food.

"The SPD is attempting to replace diversity with simplicity. The food industry must remain responsible for the recipes, otherwise party platforms will turn into cookbooks," Christoph Minhoff, the head of the Federation of German Food and Drink Industries (BVE), told Bild .

Read moreAmericans told to cut their sugar intake in half

Food and Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt, a member of the CSU, presented a draft fat and sugar reduction strategy last summer, but it never made it to the cabinet to start the approval process.

Schmidt's plan, however, did not call for a law to enforce the new limits, instead focusing on voluntary participation from food and beverage corporations.

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