At Waitrose, we have a role to play in promoting healthy eating and driving improvements in public health outcomes. We develop our product range to support better diets for our customers, and by also providing information, support and advice, we want to inspire them to make healthy decisions. Our food must meet our customers' high expectations on quality and value as well as safety and legal standards. In addition, we are working with the industry to help tackle public health concerns.
Developing our nutrition strategy
We have updated our nutrition policy and have set targets to reduce calories, saturated fat and sugar by 10% in nine key categories. These will have the biggest impact on our customers' diets.
In particular, we are taking action on sugar and are guided by the government's 2016 childhood obesity report. We will reduce sugar levels in products, reduce portion size and shift purchases to lower sugar products. In 2016, we reduced the sugar content of 22 out of 27 of our own-brand cereals by an average of 15%. Over the next year we plan to reduce sugar in our soft drinks, desserts and our morning goods range, through a combination of reducing sugar levels and portion sizes.
'[Waitrose is] moving in the right direction in helping to reduce calorie intakes and the risk of weight gain and obesity.'
Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist, Public Health England
Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist at Public Health England has said: 'It's good to see further reductions in sugar by Waitrose across its own-brand cereals. It recognises the impact of excessive sugar in the diet and shows they are moving in the right direction in helping to reduce calorie intakes and the risk of weight gain and obesity.'
Information and advice
We want Partners in our stores to be well informed about healthy eating in order to advise our customers while they shop. In 2017 we will integrate healthy eating advice into our product knowledge training.
We also plan to offer free healthy eating training to all of our Partners in 2017 to enable them to make healthier choices for themselves and their families. Find out more about our wellbeing proposition for Partners.
Omega 3 chicken
A decade of research amid concerns within the medical community that consumers don't include enough omega 3 in their diets prompted us to become the first British retailer to launch omega 3-enriched chicken. This is particularly helpful for children, who often do not like oily fish. The chicken is produced by our dedicated supplier, Moy Park, to Waitrose's bespoke high welfare standards. These ensure the chickens receive plenty of natural light, and more space than the industry standards, allowing the birds to display natural behaviour. The chickens are fed a diet containing an algae that is naturally rich in omega 3. The taste and appearance of the chicken is the same as birds reared on a conventional diet.
Tackling antibiotic misuse
Overuse and misuse of antimicrobials in farm animal feed is recognised as a risk to human health1 as overexposure can result in resistance. All antibiotics are used carefully, under strict protocols and only in controlled circumstances. Entirely healthy animals are not routinely given antibiotics. Some use of antibiotics is necessary in some circumstances but they must be used sparingly, under the close supervision of a veterinary surgeon. We believe antibiotics should be given only as a last resort when other actions have proved ineffective and when welfare would be seriously compromised if they weren't prescribed.
One specific area of concern is the use of Critically Important Antimicrobials (CIAs) – those most important to human and animal health, which are rarely prescribed. This protocol applies to all our supply chains, including aquaculture. This year, we have focused on tackling this issue further and aim to entirely eliminate the use of CIAs in the livestock used for our food production.
In late 2015 we formed a cross-species Responsible Animal Health Group to share best practice in this area. All our own-brand supply chains are working with urgency towards continuous and significant year on year reductions in usage of all antibiotics and we have pledged to end the use of all CIAs as soon as possible.
Action on Campylobacter
Campylobacter is the number one cause of food poisoning in the UK. We have made significant progress in tackling campylobacter in chickens over the last year, together with our dedicated chicken supplier Moy Park. The most recent Food Standards Agency report (March 2017) shows that, overall, levels of Campylobacter present on fresh chickens has fallen over 2016. Waitrose was found to have the lowest presence of the bacteria on shop samples tested by the agency.