Levels of fats, sugars and salt are still too high in some processed food and drinks sold in Germany, new data from the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) shows.

The findings, carried out via product monitoring led by researchers at the Max Rubner Insitute (MRI), show little change to the sugar content in some sweetened dairy products since the first Interim survey carried out in 2019.

Sweetened quark products had seen “no statistically significant change” in the past four years, the BMEL said.

Sugar levels in sweetened dairy products marketed to children also remained high, sitting at an average of 11.5g per 100g in 2022.

An assessment of a sample of soft drinks sold in Germany between 2018 and 2022 showed a 5% cut to sugar content, but “no significant change” since 2019.

Researchers also found no major decrease in sugar in fruit drinks made with added sugar between 2018 and 2022.

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In pastries, fats and saturated fatty acids went up 4.3% and 4.8% to 1g/100g and 0.6g/100g respectively between 2016 and 2021. Sugar was reduced 7% in this period, but cuts were only found in seven out of 32 pastry goods assessed.

As a result of the findings, the government has called on the MRI to develop new reduction targets for manufacturers of relevant products by the end of 2024.

The latest results were published in the BMEL’s second Interim report, as part of its National Reduction and Innovation Strategy for Sugar, Fats and Salt in Finished Products, launched in 2018.

As part of the strategy, which aims to help German consumers follow a more healthy, balanced diet, the German government called on food companies to make voluntary commitments to reducing the levels of fat, sugar and salt.

Eleven trade groups have made commitments so far. These include the Association of Large German Bakeries (VDG), the Federal Association of German Sausage & Ham Producers (BVWS), the national Non-Alcoholic Drinks Association (wafg), the Association of the German Fruit Juice Industry (VdF) and the German Deep-Frozen Institute (DTI).

Pledges vary between the associations. For instance, the BVWS plans to have an average salt content of 1.1g per 100g across its packaged baked goods portfolio by 2025. The VdF is looking to reduce added sugar content in fruit juices by 15% by the same deadline.

Cem Özdemir, the German Minister of Food and Agriculture, said: “Unfortunately, the second NRI interim report makes it clear that the previous reformulations are not sufficient. We have therefore commissioned the MRI to develop scientifically supported reduction targets in a broad stakeholder process. My ministry will demand this objective, scientifically based basis for further reformulations from the food industry. We all have a responsibility.”

Soft drinks, meat alternatives, pastries and cold sauces are to be assessed again by the MRI in the latter half of this year. Breakfast cereals, bread and pastries, meat products, soups, stews and ready meals will be analysed in the second half of 2025, with another report due in 2026.

Germany has also been working to boost healthy food consumption by proposing a limit on the advertising of junk-food. In February 2023, the government called for a restriction on adverts aimed at children under the age of 14 for food and drinks with “too much” fats, sugars and salt. It had suggested curbing junk-food ads shown via outdoor, social media and television marketing campaigns between 6am and 11pm.