FSA issues new health advice

Posted on 2 Dec 2009 by The Manufacturer

The Food Standards Agency has launched its second consultation on the reduction of saturated fat and the introduction of smaller portion sizes by UK food producers.

Having finished its consultation on soft drinks with added sugar, chocolate confectionery and biscuits, cakes, pastries and buns last months, the Agency has now moved on to savoury snacks.

It is proposing the following voluntary recommendations for industry:

• Dairy foods – promote the supply and sale of 1% fat (or less) milk, reduced-fat Cheddar cheese and lower-fat ice cream.
• Meat products – reduce the fat and saturated fat content of sausages, meat pies and pastries.
• Savoury snacks – make single packs of 30g or less more widely available and increase promotion of/encourage consumer interest in the smaller pack sizes.
• All products – increase marketing efforts towards the promotion of reduced/low-fat options, with particular emphasis on lower-fat spreads.

“The Agency’s proposals are a challenge for the industry, but we know that many businesses have already made great progress in improving the healthiness of their products,” said Clair Baynton, FSA’s head of nutrition. “Our aim is to ensure that people have a range of smaller portion sizes and lower-saturated-fat options to choose from when shopping, which will make it easier for them to eat a healthier diet.”

Julian Hunt of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said he is pleased that the FSA is recognizing the good work done by UK food producers in reformulating products to become healthier.

However, he warned that new EU regulations which begin in January, relating to more stringent labelling obligations, will make it harder for companies to make nutrition claims and may prevent them from rising to the FSA’s challenge on marketing.

“Having invested the time, effort and money required to develop reduced fat or lower fat products, our members will always want to promote the changes they have made,” he said. “Therefore, we are urging the Agency and the Government to do more to lobby Brussels about this Regulation before it is too late.”

The FSA wants views from industry on its proposals between now and March 9. It will then publish the final recommendations from both this consultation and the last one.