One of the dairy sector's fastest-growing categories, reduced-fat products, could suffer a significant setback as a result of the EU, Dairy UK has warned.

As The Grocer went to press, an EU standing committee was expected to approve changes to regulations on nutrition and health claims governing what products may carry 'reduced' claims.

The dairy industry had hoped these changes would include a drop from 30% to 25% for 'reduced' claims, so that a reduced-fat cheese would need to contain just 25% less fat than standard cheese ­instead of the current 30%.

But Dairy UK technical director Ed Komorowski said this had inexplicably been dropped from the final version, due to be put to the vote on Thursday, even though all previous versions of the amendment had contained a change from 30% to 25%.

Not getting the change to 25% was a considerable setback for makers of ­reduced-fat dairy products, not least because consumers were more likely to buy a product with 25% less fat than one with a 30% reduction, he said. "People might think 25% is not as substantial as 30%, but the trouble with that argument is that a product with a 30% reduction will be inferior and a 25% product is more likely to be repurchased."

Thursday's vote could also introduce problematic rules for products claiming to contain reduced saturated fat, Komorowski added. This claim would only be allowed if the reduction in satfats did not lead to an increase in trans-fats, even though such an increase was unavoidable if feed modifications were used to produce lower satfat dairy products, he said.

Komorowski added that some UK suppliers were ­already in the final stages of NPD with products they had hoped to market with 'reduced saturated fat' claims, and that these would have to be shelved or rethought if the amendment were voted through.

Once an amendment has been approved, the new regulations are published and typically become law within 20 days.