Nine red warning lights and two ambers: that is what the cheese industry will face if the Food Standards Agency’s proposed traffic-light system is introduced, according to dairy experts.
But if the FSA changed the way it calculated foods to base its figure on the recommended 30g daily intake of cheese, then most popular types would be labelled amber instead of the damning red, the Dairy Council claimed this week.
The FSA’s nutrient-profiling system would signpost foods taking into account their saturated fat, salt and sugar content. Based, as it is proposed, on a 100g serving, cheese would rate poorly in terms of its salt and saturated fat quantities.
But by using the much lower figure of 30g - the portion size recommended by most nutritionists - cottage cheese would be given a green light (“eat plenty”) and most other cheeses amber (“eat in moderation”). Lancashire and Cheshire would stay on red (“eat sparingly”).
The council said it was worried consumers would interpret the red traffic light as meaning “do not eat at all”.
Chief executive Jill Eisberg said: “Our concern is that shoppers will see the red traffic light logo on cheese and boycott it because they think it’s not good for them.
“If the FSA were to opt for Guideline Daily Amounts, cheese would be recognised as a nutrient-dense food.”
The council said it would step up its lobbying against the scheme. On Friday it submitted its response to the FSA’s second round of consultation.
Chris Walkland