Healthier Summer Treats Ahead

As summer draws to a close, Northern Ireland’s ice cream manufacturers are beginning to develop healthier versions of their closely guarded recipes. CAFRE Loughry campus and the Food Standards Agency’s workshop “formulating for a healthier future” was the first in CAFRE’s engagement on a practical programme of work specifically to support ice cream manufacturers in tackling the challenges of sugar reduction. Ice cream is one of the nine product categories identified as a significant contributor to children’s sugar intakes which government has challenged the food industry to reduce by at least 20% by 2020. Industry can achieve this through reduction of sugar levels in products, reducing portion size or shifting purchasing towards lower sugar alternatives.

The CAFRE and FSA event to support ice cream manufacturers tackling the sugar reduction challenge, Joanne Casey (FSA); Claire Heron (CAFRE); Ashley Baker (Kerry Group); Emily Watson (FDF), Sharon Gilmore (FSA) and Roisin Lagan (CAFRE)

The FSA opened the workshop by introducing their Eating Well Choosing Better programme to complement this ambition for food product improvement with small / medium sized Northern Ireland food businesses. The core message was action is urgently needed as nearly a third of children aged 2 to 15 are overweight or obese and younger generations are becoming obese at earlier ages and staying obese for longer.

The workshop had an international flavour with food technologist Ashley Baker from Kerry Global Ingredients’ Taste and Nutrition team discussing the latest reduced sugar applications which can significantly reduce the level of sugar without compromising on taste. The Food and Drink Federation are developing technical guidance for manufacturers and used this opportunity to get feedback from those working in the industry. CAFRE dairy technologist Claire Heron described the technical support available at Loughry campus.

To support ice cream manufacturers in taking the next step CAFRE are providing a mentoring support package to help with the most challenging and technical aspects of sugar reduction and reformulation without compromising on quality. This package will be tailored specifically for the company and provide access to a dedicated dairy technologist. For more information on this programme of work or to register your interest contact Roisin Lagan, Food Technologist @ roisin.lagan@daera-ni.gov.uk or alternatively on 028 867 68153.

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