One of the aims of Dutch food policy is to make it easier for consumers to choose healthy foods. The Dutch government encourages the food industry to make agreements on the maximum levels of salt, sugar and saturated fat in food. RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment researchers have concluded that there was variation in the number of food products that complied with these agreements in 2018.
The agreements on maximum levels of salt, saturated fats and sugar in food, have been made within the context of the Agreement for Improvement of Food Composition. The agreement applies to a small part of the product supply. It is possible to make even healthier products by making agreements for more food products and or by sharpening current agreements.
With respect to salt content, 85 per cent of meat cold cuts complied with the agreed maximum level. This was also the case for 58 per cent of meat preserves, 68 per cent of soups and broths and 71 per cent of sauces.
With respect to saturated fat content 94 per cent of meat cold cuts and 72 per cent of cakes prepared with margarine were at or below the agreed maximum level.
For some product groups, it was not possible to assess whether products were compliant with the maximum levels agreed, using data from the 'Levensmiddelendatabank'. This was the case, for instance, where an agreement referred to added sugar, but only information on the total sugar level was available.
To monitor product composition, RIVM has developed a new procedure in 2018. The new procedure involves using product information from the 'Levensmiddelendatabank'. This is a database with product information provided by supermarkets and food manufacturers. The new procedure has made information available on many more products than before (over 50,000 products). Because of the new way of collecting data, it was not possible to assess whether levels have changed in recent years and to what extent. In the coming years, the new procedure will be used to monitor food product composition.