The dairy industry warned yesterday that a proposed ‘traffic lights’ system of food labelling could backfire and stigmatise healthy foods.

As The Grocer reported last week, key bodies in the sector submitted feedback to the FSA’s consultation. The message was unanimous: that the system is too simplistic and excludes too many nutrients to be used appropriately on nutrient-dense foods such as cheese.

British Cheese Board secretary Nigel White said: “We don’t believe in this one-size-fits-all approach can be used for a subject as complex as nutrition.”

Jill Eisberg, chief executive of the Dairy Council, added: “The FSA model omits several critical nutrients such as B-group vitamins, vitamins A, C and D, folic acid, fibre and protein.

“Dairy foods are nutrient-dense and are rich sources of protein, vitamins A and B and a variety of minerals The draft profiling model takes none of these nutrients into account except for calcium.

“The focus is very heavy on saturated fat, sugar and salt. Portion size is also very important. A standard serving of cheese is 30g, although the FSA model generalises all portions as 100g.”

Dairy UK, urged the FSA to re-think one of the proposals for a nutrient profile system which categorises foods in terms of red, amber and green.

Sir Don Curry, the chairman of Dairy UK, said that under the proposed system the nutrient qualities of dairy products and their important contribution to a healthy balanced diet would be overlooked.

He said: “There is a real risk that this particular system will cause confusion and stigmatise food that is healthy. There is widespread acceptance that cheese is an important source of protein, calcium and other nutrients and can constitute an excellent nutritious snack. How can that merit a red light under the proposed system?”