Public health minister Caroline Flint has declared the nutrient profiling model being used to underpin what products can be advertised to children as "the best we could get".

Responding to cross-industry criticism of the tool, developed by the FSA to help Ofcom identify foods high in fat, salt and sugar, Flint acknowledged it was contentious but said something was needed to help change the balance of advertising of such products.

Speaking at the Food Advertising Unit's tenth annual conference she added that, while most food suppliers had spent less money targeting children via advertising in 2005 compared with 2002, there was still "significant advertising in children's programming".

But Melanie Leech, director general of the FDF, hit back: "The best we have got is not good enough." The FDF has proposed working with the European Food Safety Authority on developing a more robust model for use throughout Europe.

Andrew Brown, chairman of the Committee of Advertising Practice, said Ofcom was uneasy about the tool, which penalises particular foodstuffs eaten in small quantities, such as Marmite, because the methodology is based on levels per 100g.

The industry is awaiting the outcome of Ofcom's decision on tightening rules on advertising and promotion of food and drink to kids.