FSA drops protein capping from nutrient profiling criteria

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrient profiling, Nutrition, Uk food standards agency

Protein capping has been removed from the UK Food Standards Agency
(FSA) nutrient profiling model that has been in use for just over a
year.

The latest amendment to the model that seeks to establish criteria that will control which foods can be advertised to children, will allow three per cent more foods to market themselves at youngsters. These include cereals, savoury snacks and meat products. Protein capping was introduced to the nutrient profiling model to prevent foods that may have been high in protein but also salt, sugar, fat, and saturated fat, from being deemed "good foods"​ by the system. An independent panel gave its backing to the model which will be open for public and industry consultation until 29 September, after which it will finalise its recommendations. Scientifically robust ​ The panel of seven scientists and academics assembled by FSA deemed the latest incarnation of the model, with protein capping removed, as "scientifically robust and fit for its intended purpose". ​ The FSA's Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition will also provide further input. The model is expected to be adopted by early 2009 at which point advertising to children in the UK will come under the control of the guidelines. The model has been in development for several years and utilises a scoring system that seeks to prevent foods high in fat, salt and sugar from being marketed during television broadcasts that attract a significant audience of children. The removal of protein capping was the only major amendment to the model. An FSA spokesperson told NutraIngredients.com the protein cap was removed because widespread reformulation of foods and beverages by the UK food industry meant its intended purpose had to a large extent been nullified. The independent panel also recommended FSA, the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice and the UK broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, consider how the model is applied to advertisements featuring recipes. The model has informed Ofcom advertising policy since April 1 2007. Professor Mike Kelly, chair of the review panel, and the director of the Centre of Public Health Excellence at the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), said: "Throughout the course of our Review we have consulted widely and listened to all the issues raised by stakeholders. Our recommendations follow careful consideration and rigorous, scientific testing of the model which has been in use for the past year. The model is innovative, fit for purpose and has a real public health benefit."​Co-panelist Dr Susan Jebb, who is head of nutrition and health research at the Medical Research Council added: "Comprehensive testing by scientists in the UK and internationally has shown this model to be far more robust than others. The proposed change will improve it further and make it easier to use." ​ A 2003 review found food promotion affects children's preferences, purchasing and consumption, and also that children's food promotion was dominated by television advertising. The UK nutrient profiling system applies only to television advertising and not to claims that can be made about products as is the intention of another nutrient profiling system being considered by the European Union. More information about the FSA nutrient profiling system can be found here​.

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