The Food Standards Agency could face legislative difficulties if it attempts to set targets for reducing fat and sugar content in some foods, manufacturers have warned.

EU directives control the composition of a range of products, including the minimum fat contents of chocolate, milk, butter and cheese. Another directive forbids the use of sweeteners in cakes and biscuits.

Alison Ward of the Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate & Confectionery Association said: "We would li?ke to use sweeteners because it would give us opportunities for NPD. We can't, and at the last count I don't think the EU was planning to review this legislation."

The Food Standards Agency is to consult on a strategy for reducing consumption of saturated fat and sugar, with many manufacturers fearing a wrangle over reformulation of popular foods.