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"Taking the biscuit" - Soil Association's latest citizen campaign

"Taking the biscuit" - Soil Association's latest citizen campaign

This week the Soil Association launched its new citizens engagement campaign, “Taking the biscuit”, calling for government action to address both the over-consumption of ultra-processed food and misleading signals which associate UPFs with better food choices. 

Ultra-processed food is increasingly associated with ill health and environmental harms. And yet it makes up more than half of the average UK diet, with the highest consumption seen in children. A growing body of research has linked ultra-processed food consumption with heart, kidney and liver disease, cancer, depression, obesity and even early death. 

Despite this, the UK government’s NHS Food Scanner App promotes ultra-processed food and drink by awarding products that encourage unhealthy snacking, artificially-sweetened fizzy drinks and even energy drinks its Good Choice badge and similar endorsements, simply because they meet the government’s fat, salt and sugar recommendations. No consideration is given to the amount or type of processing involved and families are therefore being encouraged to choose ultra-processed products.  

Soil Association's petition calls on the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay to:  

  • Remove the UK government’s Good Choice badge from ultra-processed products, including in the NHS Food Scanner App

  • Introduce dietary guidelines to address ultra-processed food and drink 

  • Introduce a percentage reduction target to reduce ultra-processed food and drink consumption levels in the UK to more healthy levels by 2030 

  • Talk to families about their experience of ultra-processed foods, and work to ensure that healthy foods are more accessible and affordable

The campaign firmly places responsibility on the UK government to address the over-consumption of ultra-processed food. Although produced to standards that limit a wide range of controversial ingredients and additives, we acknowledge that some organic products may be classified as ultra-processed. The Soil Association is not calling for a ban on ultra-processed products, but for government action to reduce their over-consumption, to help address some of the negative impacts on land use and human health. 

Further information on ultra-processed foods and their health and environmental impacts can be found in our Ultra-Processed Planet report.