The Food Standards Agency is to urge Brussels to relax the rules governing the sale of milk to enable the marketing of lower-fat lines.
The EU's Drinking Milk Regulations set strict parameters for fat levels in skimmed, semi-skimmed and whole milk. Products with fat contents outside these limits cannot be sold as 'milk'.
The FSA believes this is hampering its efforts to reduce people's consumption of saturated fat.
It has been told by Defra that a review of the regulation is imminent, and has proposed lobbying for reform. If successful, it is likely to ask the UK's dairy industry to cut fat levels in semi-skimmed milk from 1.7% to 1% and in whole milk from 4% to 2%.
The FSA also wants to examine whether fat levels in cheese, butter, ice cream and chocolate - which are again regulated by EU law - could be reduced within existing legal constraints.
The proposals are contained in the FSA's long-awaited draft strategy on saturated fat and energy intake, put to consultation this week.
The tone of the strategy document is measured, with frequent references to work already done by retailers and suppliers to reduce fat and sugar. However, the prospect of a large-scale voluntary reformulation programme still looms.
The FSA is seeking views on whether it should develop "voluntary targets for relevant food categories, covering saturated fat and energy for different food categories, akin to the approach taken to develop the agency's salt reduction target". It is proposing focusing reformulation efforts on dairy, meat lines, biscuits, cereals, pizza, potato crisps, chocolate, soft drinks and pastry.
The FSA is also keen to see smaller portion sizes for some products, and wants to increase uptake of healthier versions of lines.
It will also consider foodservice and alcohol as part of its strategy. Labelling of the energy content of alcohol is one proposal.