Today, carbonated drinks in Bulgaria are among the lowest calorie in Europe and this is a definite achievement for this country.

According to bourgas.ru, today, carbonated drinks in Bulgaria are among the lowest calorie in Europe and this is a definite achievement of this country.

The sixth national meeting-seminar, organized by the Ministry of Health and the National Center for Public Health and Analysis (NCPHA) with the participation of scientists and industry organizations, reported on the progress in food reform to reduce added sugar, the activities of the National Program for the Prevention of Chronic Noncommunicable Diseases.

According to a European Commission report, 5 out of 10 risk factors for chronic non-communicable diseases are diet-related. Food reformulation has been identified as one of six policies to promote healthy diets set by the World Health Organization at the UN summit at the end of 2021.

At present, in Bulgaria, the non-alcoholic industry is the first and only food industry that formally and voluntarily commits itself to the Scientific Expert Council of the Ministry of Health in order to achieve the target set in the EU Annex to reduce added sugars. At the end of last year, an independent external review and review of information on the labels of drinks offered on the market confirmed the fulfillment of a voluntary commitment to further reduce the content of added sugar and calories in carbonated drinks from 2015 to 2020.

As a result of the long-term efforts of the sector, Bulgaria is among the top markets in terms of the share of carbonated drinks without added sugar – 65.6%, with a double level of productivity compared to the average share in Europe. In our country, only 1 in 5 drinks offered by the soft drinks industry contains added sugars, doubling the performance during the first reform meeting despite a challenging environment with disrupted supply chains, industrial and economic challenges due to COVID-19.

The next voluntary commitments from the non-alcoholic industry at the EU level include another 10% average reduction in added sugar, as well as a new commitment to responsible marketing without advertisements and offers in media channels, including digital and social networks, to children under 13 years old. (increasing the age limit by 1 year compared to the previous commitment) and lowering the audience threshold to 30%.

During the workshop, it became clear that in order to achieve sustainable results in reducing the consumption of added sugars, a multilateral approach and collective action of all participants is needed. One of the bodies that brings together the scientific community, institutions and representatives of associations is the Scientific and Expert Council on Foodstuffs, formed by Order of the Minister of Health in 2017.

The key factor in monitoring the fulfillment of obligations is the introduction of a unified and standardized control system covering all sectors of the food industry. The monitoring methodology is currently being developed at the European level. As part of a joint effort, of which the NCPHA and the Ministry of Health are part, a monitoring unit has been established which has been piloted in two Member States and planned for next year in Bulgaria.

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