Tackling HFSS in baked goods and patisserie

Olivia Creber, Puratos UK, R&D Patisserie Specialist talks technical challenges of reducing fat, salt and sugar in baked goods

21 Sep 2021

Upcoming high fat, salt and sugar legislation is set to challenge traditional marketing methods for baked goods and patisserie brands at retail level.

As part of a nationwide government scheme to reduce childhood obesity, in October 2022 advertising rules on high fat, salt and sugar products (HFSS) will become stricter, bringing monumental changes to retail and foodservice. Products will be allocated a score based on nutritional criteria set out by Department of Health’s Nutrient Profiling Model and anything over a score ‘4’ will see new restrictions on ‘bulk’ advertising and in-store/online placement. 

It has been suggested that the new restrictions will cause up to a £1bn problem for retailers by losing valuable revenue. This will see pressure mount on industrial players to create and advertise new formulations of current ranges while inspiring with healthier innovation. 



Creating indulgent products with low fat, sugar and sodium is a challenge, both as an ingredients supplier and for our customers because of the functional benefits of the individual ingredients.

Sugar is a multifaceted component in bakery products; not only does it help with flavour and colour but also contributes towards batter viscosity in cakes, slowing down protein coagulation, increasing starch gelatinisation temperature – therefore allowing products to expand in the oven. It also increases moisture retention, controls mould growth – thus reducing food wastage, and in cakes it aids the incorporation of air. Finding other ingredients that mimic all these functional qualities and that are healthier than sugar has been difficult.


These new restrictions bring a whole host of considerations to manufacturers, ranging from reformulation of products, increased costs in raw material, technical and time-based challenges, complexity of HFSS rules and scoring, and of course consumer acceptance. 

Covid-19 has brought a new awareness to health, the relationship between consumer and food has shifted, people are looking for healthier choices, new concepts and are open to reformulation. Two criteria that must remain consistent are taste and texture – as identified by Puratos’ Global Consumer Study Taste Tomorrow. 

Products must taste good and have a great texture to ensure repeat purchase. For the consumer, healthy products are made up of two main criteria: removing the bad and increasing the good. This mirrored by the new HFSS regulations – reducing the ‘bad’ nutrients to lower the initial score and improve the score by adding vegetable, nuts, fruit, protein and fibre (restrictions apply).

Fat, like sugar, also has many functional properties within bakery, influencing shape, taste, texture and flavour. 

Naturally occurring sodium within ingredients, unfortunately can not be eliminated. Added salt is used to control the fermentation process in bakery products and a way of reducing mould growth within confectionery as it is a natural preservative. Sodium is also a base for baking powders used in cake to give them the volume and texture that is so desirable, therefore it is difficult to take out all sources of sodium from products and it is in them in many different forms.