Healthy Eating and HFSS Foods

What is HFSS? Our Guide to Healthy Eating and HFSS Foods

Here at Birds Eye, we’re proud of our nutritious products and healthy portfolio. Did you know that more than 90% of our total sales annually are from healthy products, which are ‘non-HFSS’ or ‘non-high fat salt sugar’? We’re passionate about helping you make nutritious and healthy choices, while also providing products which taste delicious and are perfect mealtime solutions.


What is HFSS?

There have been numerous newspaper and online stories recently about ‘HFSS’ foods and junk foods. But what does ‘HFSS’ mean? Simply, HFSS stands for ‘high fat salt sugar’, and this refers to an objective measure of food and drink healthiness developed for the UK Government back in the early 2000s, called the Nutrient Profiling Model.


What is HFSS advertising?

If a food is HFSS according the Nutrient Profiling Model, it cannot be marketed towards children as it is deemed less healthy. If a food is non-HFSS its objectively healthy and so can be marketed towards children. A healthy, balanced diet needs to contain appropriate amounts of energy, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals, and these should ideally come from a wide variety of foods. The Nutrient Profiling Model aims to account for these when assessing whether a food or drink is healthy.


Limiting foods high in fat, salt and sugar

Healthy eating is about balance and the Nutrient Profiling Model uses this principle. We should all be trying to limit our saturated fat (see our All About Fats article for more details), sugar and salt intake, and need to make sure we eat the right number of calories for our own energy needs. We also need a good amount of protein in our diets to keep our muscles and bones healthy, should eat good quality fats such as those found in nuts and seed oils, and need enough fibre. And, of course, our diets should be filled with a variety of different fruits and vegetables for their numerous nutritional benefits.


The Nutrient Profiling Model

The Nutrient Profiling Model looks at the entire food or drink, assessing its levels per 100g of:

  • Calories
  • Saturated Fat
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Protein
  • Fibre
  • Fruits, Vegetables and Nuts

To determine the healthiness of foods or drinks, the Model looks at the balance of those nutrients we need to limit, and those nutritional goodies a healthy balanced diet requires. The foods and drinks are allocated points for the levels of these nutrients and nutritional goodies, and the combined score for calories, saturated fat, sugar and salt can be compensated up to a point by the scores for protein, fibre and fruits/vegetables/nuts. The overall points score for a food or drink determines whether its HFSS or non-HFSS; a score below 4 means a product is non-HFSS (healthy), a score of 4 and above means a product is HFSS (less healthy).


Birds Eye and non-HFSS foods

At Birds Eye, we have been using a minimally adapted version of the Nutrient Profiling Model for years to ensure we maximise the healthy products in our range. The only adaptation is that we split the HFSS scores into 2 categories – Amber and Red. This means, the products we class as being healthy meal choices are objectively healthy (non-HFSS) according to this external model. When developing or seeking to improve our products, we look at the scores for all of the aforementioned nutrients and nutritional goodies, and we challenge our talented chefs and food developers to make the score as healthy as it can be, always aiming for non-HFSS (a score of less than 4). Because of this, over 90% of our annual sales come from our objectively healthy, non-HFSS products.