Rising to the challenge of making one of our favourite foods healthier

Date published: 21 January 2020

Bakers from across Northern Ireland have received guidance on producing healthier scones from the Food Innovation Centre based at the Loughry Campus of the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (CAFRE).

Christine Haydock, Senior Food Technologist CAFRE; Peter Simpson, Head of Food Technology, CAFRE; Finnuala Close, Senior Dietary Health Advisor, FSANI & Dr Kathleen Mooney, Senior Scientific Officer, FSANI.

The aim of reducing calories, fat, sugar and salt in scones was highlighted at the recent event which was jointly hosted by the Foods Standards Agency (FSA) in Northern Ireland.

The seminar also focused on Northern Ireland’s scone culture, marketing opportunities and production techniques to make the product healthier for consumers.

Delegates also had the chance to view CAFRE’s pilot bakery, food innovation kitchens and sensory evaluation facilities at the event at the Cookstown based campus.

Speaking about the FSA’s objective with this project, Dr Kathleen Mooney, Senior Scientific Advisor, FSA in NI, said: “We want to help local businesses to produce scones with reduced calories, fat, sugar and salt as part of our efforts to help tackle obesity in Northern Ireland. 

“Working in collaboration with CAFRE we have created guidance that will support bakers to reformulate their products in line with Government advice for salt and sugar reduction. Work is ongoing, as part of our Eating Well Choosing Better programme, to help small to medium sized businesses across Northern Ireland improve the nutritional quality of everyday foods.”

The creation of this guidance follows survey results last year, which revealed that some scones sold in Northern Ireland can be in the region of 750 calories and contain the equivalent to ten sugar cubes. To view the survey results visit the Foods Standards Agency website.

Peter Simpson, Head of Food Technology, CAFRE, added: “We are delighted to be working with the FSA in NI in producing this important guidance and we were particularly pleased to have the opportunity to invite bakers to the Food Innovation Centre to attend this information seminar.  

“In Northern Ireland we have a fantastic Agri-food industry which we can be justifiably proud off, and CAFRE Food Technologists are committed to supporting the industry to improve the health and wellbeing of consumers.”

Contact kathleen.mooney@food.gov.uk or christine.haydock@daera-ni.gov.uk for further assistance or technical support.

Notes to editors: 

  1. FSA’s Eating Well Choosing Better programme is delivered in partnership with key organisations including District Councils and Knowledge Providers. It focuses on food product improvement/reformulation and increasing the availability of small and/or reduced portion sizes, to make the healthy choice easy for the NI consumer.
  2. The Eating Well Choosing Better programme aligns with Public Health England’s (PHE) reduction and reformulation programme which tasks the food industry with reducing sugar and calories from the foods which contribute most to these intakes. This programme also supports industry to encourage consumer purchasing towards lower or no added sugar products. The FSA reports on Eating Well Choosing Better activity to the Department of Health, twice per year, under the Programme for Government framework. 
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