The Food and Drink Federation has launched a scathing attack on the Food Standards Agency’s nutrient profiling model for children’s food, which it claims could burden the industry with £1bn in reformulation costs.
In its submission to the FSA’s consultation, which ended this week, it said that there were “fundamental flaws” in the point-scoring system, a method of categorising products as high in saturated fat, salt or sugar; intermediate; or healthier.
The labels are given based on the content levels of “good” and “bad” nutrients and are intended for use by Ofcom as a central plank in its investigation into advertising to children over the next few months.
However, the FDF said that such methods would require “fudging” to smooth out anomalies. “From the model it would appear better for a child to have some fast food chips and a milkshake for breakfast
rather than a bowl of their favourite cereal with milk.”
The FSA said it was hard to make generalisations in categories as individual brands would create difficult scores. “It is complicated,” admitted an FSA spokeswoman.
“However, we do take all responses to the consultation very seriously.”
But the FDF said that a consequence of the model’s introduction would be that some manufacturers were likely to try to reformulate products to improve their products’ scores and effectively “pass the test” to avert advertising restrictions.
However, this would cost £500,000 for a simple salt reduction, said the FDF, while reducing both fat and sugar would cost at least £1m.
“An average supermarket offers 30,000 products. If it were assumed that changes to product composition were to affect about 1,000 of the main products, costs could reach £1bn - a direct blow to the competitiveness of the UK.”
What the FDF thinks nutrient profiling would indicate