Food Companies Pledge to Remove 1.5 Trillion Calories From Their Products

Yesterday, a coalition of food companies pledged to remove 1.5 trillion calories from their products by 2015. The announcement from the group, the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, was made yesterday by Michelle Obama at a White House press conference, and came as the result of an agreement made with the Partnership for a Healthier America, a group of non-profit organizations dedicated to curbing childhood obesity.

According to a press release, the HWCF "will pursue their calorie reduction goal by developing and introducing lower-calorie options, changing recipes where possible to lower the calorie content of current products, or reducing portion sizes of existing single-serve products."

Also, the HWCF, which includes such retailers, food, and beverage manufacturers as Kellogg's, Campbell's, Sara Lee, Coca-Cola, and Safeway, promises its members will "continue to take other steps to enhance the products in their portfolios - including adding vital nutrients such as fiber and whole grains, and fruits and vegetables."

The group's efforts will be evaluated by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropy dedicated to improving health care; the RWJF will make its findings public, which is a good way to get the HWCF to live up to its press release.

Over on the Atlantic Food Channel, Marion Nestle questions the sincerity of the move, asking, "Is this a great step forward or a crass food industry publicity stunt?" Although historical precedent suggests the latter, Nestle concedes that "the evaluation sounds plenty serious, and top-notch people are involved in it. If the companies fail to do as promised, this will be evident and evident reason for regulation."

Either way, we'll have to wait until 2015 to find out, but at least it's a step in the right direction.


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