One per cent can help reduce sat fat, says agency
ingredient in food products to help formulators reduce saturated
fat levels in line with guidance targets, says the FSA - advice
that could help stimulate a sector of the dairy industry.
The UK's Food Standards Agency has this year been involved with discussions over ways to reduce the saturated fat content of food products. The ultimate aim is to help reduce incidence of obesity. The communication could help stimulate specialist sectors of the food ingredients industry, and open up new markets for companies that build their business around dairy-derived products. One per cent milk is a concept more popular in the US that on this side of the Atlantic, where consumers that want low-fat milk tend to seek out skimmed milk. This has a fat content of no more than 0.5 per cent. Semi-skimmed milk, on the other hand, typically contains between 1.5 and 1.8 per cent fat. This means that one per cent milk sits between the two, and the implication is that it is an untapped resource that could help improve the healthy profile of food products if used in formulations. In fact, the FSA said that many manufacturers are not aware that they can legally use on fat milk in their products. "Using it in place of higher fat milk could enable some manufacturers to reduce saturated fat and calories in their products." It envisages one per cent fat milk being used a wide range of products, including sauces and dairy-based desserts. According to Rosemary Hignett, head of nutrition at the Food Standards Agency, confusion about whether or not one per cent milk is acceptable as a food ingredient arose during discussions with the industry about ways to reduce saturated fat levels. The FSA opted to issue clear advice as a result of this confusion. "We hope that this advice will clarify the situation for manufacturers and retailers and, where appropriate, result in one per cent fat milk being used in place of other higher fat milk ingredients," she said. "Using one per cent milk could help to reduce saturated fat levels in some foods and would be a positive move for the consumer." The advice also highlights the benefits of the government agency consulting closely with stakeholders such as industry about ways in which the two entities can work together to improve the healthy profile of ingredients. The FSA has been consulting with stakeholders - including industry members and bodies, consumer groups and regulators - about ways to reduce saturated fat in foods since March this year. It issued draft guidance at that time, and was accepting comments until June 19. It has not yet made any formal announcement of the upshot of the consultation. However is said in March that it was seeking views in four specific areas: Making people more aware of healthy eating and the effects of too much saturated fat on health; encouraging manufacturers to make smaller portion sizes more available; helping to make use healthier, reduced-saturated fat alternatives to every day foods are widely available; and encouraging the food industry to improve its recipes.