EU regulation will hinder FSA's fat reduction campaign, says FDF

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition European union Food and drink federation

The UK Food and Drink Federation claims a call from the Food Standards Agency to put more effort into the promotion of low fat and reduced fat products such as meat pies and savoury snacks will be limited by pending EU regulation on nutrition claims.

The FDF was responding to a second consultation kickstarted yesterday by the FSA as part of its saturated fat and energy intake programme (SFEI).

The FSA is seeking industry views on reformulation, promotion and portion size proposals to drive a reduction in levels of fat and saturated fat in meat pies and pastries, and boost the number of smaller single-portion savoury snacks.

Improving consumer awareness and understanding of healthy eating with particular focus on the impact of saturated fat on health is a key element of the SFEI programme and the FSA is again pushing for an enhanced marketing drive with shoppers in this regard.

The Food and Drink Federation (FDA) said that having invested the time, effort and money required to develop reduced fat or lower fat products, its members would always want to promote the changes they have made.

Step changes

But the group argues that the EU Regulation on nutrition claims will make it harder for companies to flag up claims showing step changes in reformulation such as 10 per cent less fat from January 2010 and thus may prevent them from rising to the FSA's challenge on marketing.

Helen Munday, FDF food safety and science director, told that the industry body supports in principle the European Commission (EC) Regulation 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims to enable consumers to make informed and meaningful choices.

But, she said, that the FDF is concerned that unless the Annex to the Regulation is amended before 19 January next year, a large number of nutrition claims that have been lawfully marked for many years will need to be removed from products on the market.

“Claims such as ‘extra lite’, ‘no added salt’ and ‘X% less’ which support the FSA’s drive on product reformulation and helps industry communicate its achievements will no longer be permitted,” ​said Munday.

Relabelling costs

The FDF said that the industry will also incur significant costs in terms of relabelling costs to remove claims which are no longer permitted and additional relabelling costs if these claims are added to the Annex at a later date.

Munday said that the industry body has been urging the FSA and the UK government to push for an amendment of the Annex at the upcoming meeting of the Commission’s Working Group on Nutrition and Health.

“The UK food industry is the torchbearer in Europe for saturated fat and salt reductions, and, as such, it is imperative that the UK leads the call for changes to the Annex,”​ she warns.

A spokesperson for the FSA told this publication that the agency is involved in ongoing discussions to include claims in the Annex that would enable companies to continue with step changes in product reformulation but she said that, obviously, all member states had to be in agreement in order to get any amendments to the regulation through.

The FSA consultation on reducing saturated fat and greater choice of portion sizes for snacks can be downloaded here​.

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