The French parliament has approved a report calling for strict measures to improve the quality of ultra-processed food, including mandatory limits on trans fatty acids, salt and sugar, reported FoodNavigator on 1 October.

As well as the mandatory limits, the report also proposed limiting the number of additives used in processed foods, banning junk food marketing to children, and prohibiting health claims on unhealthy products.

However, French food and drink trade association ANIA said the proposals had “put the food industry on trial” without taking into account voluntary efforts and commitments.

A committee of 29 cross-party politicians from the French parliament approved the report in late September.

ANIA said over the past decade, French food and drink manufacturers had reduced salt by 20% and sugars by 30%, and cut oils, fats and additives when relevant.

“We also collectively work on reducing the list of ingredients in our products, when possible, to address consumer expectations on naturalness,” a spokesperson was quoted in the FoodNavigator report.

The spokesperson said it was not realistic to reduce the number of authorised additives to just 48 by 2025, as a lot of time was needed to adapt recipes. Reducing the number of additives would also require consumers to accept food and drink products with shorter shelf lives.

Earlier this year, a French study suggested that people who eat more ultra-processed foods have a higher cancer risk.

The study of 104,980 people in France, published in the British Medical Journal in February, found that a 10% increase in eating ultra-processed foods was associated with a 12% rise in overall cancer and an 11% increase in breast cancer risks.

According to the French study, ultra-processed foods included soft drinks; sweet or savoury packaged snacks; industrialised confectionery and desserts; mass-produced packaged breads; reconstituted meat such as hot dogs and chicken nuggets; instant soups and noodles; industrially pre-prepared pizzas, pies and ready meals; and other food products made mostly or entirely from sugar, oils and fats, and other substances not commonly used in food preparation such as hydrogenated oils, modified starches and protein isolates.