FSA proposes cuts to saturated fat levels in bakery products

By Jess Halliday and Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition Proposal Fsa

The Food Safety Agency (FSA) in the UK has proposed significant reductions in saturated fat levels in bakery products.

The proposal was one of many draft recommendations for the food industry put forward by the FSA in the latest phase of its Saturated Fat and Energy Intake programme (SFEI), which aims to encourage healthy eating, make smaller portions available, and encourage reformulation.

Now following a consumer awareness campaign, SFEI is focusing on the food industry.

Published this week on the FSA website, the draft recommendations for industry are being put out for consultation. Stakeholders have the chance to submit comments until November, after which the final guidelines are set to be made by the end of this year.

Bakery recommendations

For bakery products such as biscuits, cakes, pastries and buns, the recommendations revolve around reducing saturated fat levels.

Plain, sweet and savoury biscuits, and cakes and pasties should have their saturated fat levels reduced by 10 per cent on 2008 levels by 2010; and non-plain biscuits by five per cent. Doughnuts and other fried bun should switch to non-saturated fat frying oils where possible.

When it comes to chocolate, the proposal is that manufacturers make single portion packs of 40g or less of bloc chocolate more available; and chocolate confectionery in single packs of 50g or less. (Major brands Mars and Twix both currently weigh in at 58g).

Recommendations are also planned for savoury snack products and will be published next year alongside proposals for dairy and meat products.

Marketing shift

As well as making recommendations for specific product types, the FSA also proposed that all businesses increase the proportion of their marketing budgets allocated to promoting reduced, low or no fat and sugar products. The recommendations did not say how much money should be spent and is at this stage researching current budgets and plans.

Industry reaction

Reacting to the recommendations, the Food and Drink Federation expressed disappointment that the FSA “appears to remain committed to setting arbitrary targets for specific nutrients in certain foods, rather than focusing on the need for everyone to achieve a balanced diet and lifestyle”.

Julian Hunt, communications director, also highlighted strides made so far – but emphasised the need to be realistic about what is achievable and affordable.

“There are very significant technical, financial and consumer challenges that companies have to overcome with every new recipe development, and policy makers need to be realistic about the pace at which our members can be expected to keep delivering new innovations, especially in the current recession.”

The changes – billed as voluntary – are expected to cost the industry £12.7m for the reformulation of 13,238 stock keeping units from 444 manufacturers.

The FSA’s full draft document is available here. http://www.food.gov.uk/consultations/ukwideconsults/2009/saturatedfat

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