Food manufacturers will urge the European Commission to backdate the scope of a survey of food reformulation programmes by at least seven years - because they fear those companies that have done the most work not getting the credit they deserve.

In its White Paper on Nutrition, published last week, the Commission said it would begin a study next year to "explore the potential for the reformulation of foods to reduce the levels of fat, salt and sugar given the role they play in the development of chronic disease".

This would, it added, "include an assessment of the actions taken to date through both regulatory and voluntary measures, so as to provide a baseline to assess future progress."

But the Food and Drink Federation warned the Commission would have to go back at least seven years if it wanted to get a true picture of how much work UK companies had already done in this area.

"The industry has been working on this since the turn of the century," said FDF director of communications Julian Hunt. "Our research shows £11bn, of food has been reformulated and there's another £11bn worth in the better-for-you category.

"The biggest challenge for the Commission is not starting the survey from 2008, because that would disregard nearly ten years of innovation and many companies would not get the credit they deserve."

A reference in the White Paper to salt reformulation was a positive reflection on the work in this area done so far in the UK, added Hunt

The document said: "The Commission intends to facilitate, in a partnership context, the roll-out of salt reformulation campaigns based on the clear evidence of their effectiveness, as well as campaigns aimed at improving the nutrient content of manufactured foods in the European Union more generally."

Hunt said: "The UK story on salt is pretty impressive and I wouldn't be surprise if the Commission saw the work the industry has done with the Food Standards Agency as a template."

The Commission also used the White Paper to confirm it was considering "regulation of front-of-pack labelling".