And they were told that the maximum calorie content of specific products “should not exceed the 75th percentile of the current product line on the market.”
Accordingly, a serving of potato chips should be capped at 270 calories, with a ready meal limited to 570 calories, crisps at 205 calories, and a sandwich containing a maximum of 580 calories.
Officials said the targets – which are part of the government’s obesity strategy – have a “renewed urgency” given the links between overweight and the severity of Covid.
Obesity can double the risk of dying from the virus.
Critics have accused health leaders of a “chimerical crusade to remove flavor from food.”
But health activists have said the voluntary measures do not go far enough.
Public Health Minister Jo Churchill said: ‘We can all do our part to stay healthy, to help protect ourselves from the coronavirus and reduce the pressure on the NHS.
“The food industry can play its part in making healthier diets as easy as possible for everyone. These guidelines will help them take positive action. ”
The 59-page guide sets out recommended limits for a multitude of foods sold in restaurants, supermarkets, and take-out.
Pizzas should be no more than 1,230 calories, he says, whether purchased or not.
Breaded and breaded products such as langoustines should contain no more than 320 calories, he says.
And a “meal center” – like a beef casserole, which could be accompanied by side dishes – should be limited to 410 calories, he says.