Dolmio and Uncle Ben's parent company Mars Food to warn products should only be eaten "occasionally"

Catherine Neilan
Follow Catherine
Making Spaghetti
Students, be warned: Dolmio and spaghetti should be an "occasional" treat (Source: Getty)

Wolfing down huge plates of spaghetti with Dolmio sauce on a nightly basis might seem like the sort of thing the chief medical adviser would warn against - but now the company behind the brand is warning that its own product should only be eaten "occasionally".

Mars Food has said items that are higher in fat, sugar and salt will be labelled up as "occasional" products to help consumers differentiate between those that should be eaten just once a week and those that can be viewed as "everyday".

The group, which also owns the likes of Uncle Ben's and Masterfoods, said some of its products were higher in salt and had added sugar or fat "to maintain the authentic nature of the recipe", but that as a result they were "not intended to be eaten daily".

The Mars Food website will be updated within the next few months with a list of those foods to distinguish between the two categories and would also highlight those whose recipes will be adapted over the next five years to reduce sodium, sugar, or fat.

Mars Food plans to reduce sodium by an average of 20 per cent by 2021 and reduce added sugar in a limited number of sauces and light meals by 2018.

It comes as part of a five-year plan to encourage consumers to eat more healthily, which will focus on five key areas: improving nutritional content; providing consumers with more nutrition information; inspiring consumers to cook and eat healthy meals with friends and family; finding ways to offer healthy products more cheaply; and providing Mars Food staff opportunities to improve wellbeing through nutrition education, cooking facilities, and healthier food options.

Fiona Dawson, global president of food, drinks, and multisales, said: “Our nutrition criteria sets a very high standard for our products, and we also want to help our consumers understand the difference between ‘everyday’ and ‘occasional’ products within a balanced diet.”

“The food industry has already made great strides in reducing sodium, but we have more work to do to help consumers reduce sodium intake,” she added.