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From the 20th International Congress of Nutrition in Granada, Spain

Unilever: Healthier food choices must be ‘doable’

By Shane Starling+

24-Sep-2013
Last updated on 27-Sep-2013 at 01:32 GMT

Zevenbergen:
Zevenbergen: "...foods and alcohol and tobacco are completely different things so I don't think we should even think about treating them in the same way."
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The food industry came under attack last week at the International Congress of Nutrition (#ICN20) for not doing enough to improve the healthiness of its portfolios…unfairly, says Unilever.

The Dutch-Anglo food giant’s cross-category nutrition and health director, Hans Zevenbergen, said the industry’s biggest food players were doing as much as they could to improve their offerings, and deserved a seat at the table of nutritional betterment.

As the call for tobacco-like food industry marketing restrictions rises in some quarters, Zevenbergen said: “The food companies have a responsibility – that is absolutely clear. On the other hand the food companies are providing foods that people want and it is our role to do that and gradually, where we can, improve that. I don’t think it is fair necessarily or even helpful, just to point fingers and say, ‘you created the problem’.”

“I think the responsible company offers a whole selection and is moving in a good direction and together with others should do that more and more but …there is a role for people themselves, for governments, for scientists to educate and promote healthier foods but in such a way that it is doable and feasible for people.”

He said there was no need to restrict food marketing in the way tobacco or alcohol advertising has been banned or curtailed in many countries. "I say foods and alcohol and tobacco are entirely different things so I don't think we should even think about treating them in the same way."

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