FSA Seek Use Of Health Warnings For Dairy Products

Popular dairy foods such as cheese and butter could soon be labelled with cigarette-style health warnings in a bid to cut soaring levels of obesity and heart disease in the UK, according to trade magazine The Grocer.
The proposal by the government’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) aims to drive people to reduce the amount of saturated fat they eat by using ‘shock tactics’.
However, The Grocer reports that the controversial crackdown could lead to an angry response from the dairy industry as it may target a range of regular snack staples such as cheese sandwiches, which watchdogs warn contain high amounts of saturated fats .
The FSA is also considering asking cheese and butter manufacturers, as well as other producers of products high in saturated fat, to label the products with cigarette-style warnings urging consumers to eat such products in moderation or as a rare treat.
The move will reportedly form part of the FSA’s publicity campaign to reduce people’s consumption of fat.
A recent consumer study conducted by CMI Research for the food watchdog found that an approach based on shock tactics was considered “successful in challenging complacent attitudes and preconceptions of saturated fat”.
The report stated that “shock tactics show potential to cut through the crowded media environment; are likely to be memorable and could potentially have talk value”.
The FSA insisted any plans for a campaign were at “an early stage”. “Any activity in this area is not due until 2009,” an agency spokesman said.
But according to Ed Komorowski, technical director of Dairy UK, simple messages could push people away from balanced diets that include products such as cheese due to its high levels of calcium.
“Tactics designed to shock people could actually mislead them. Comparing the saturated fat content of hot buttered toast with doughnuts is not giving the full picture of the nutritional qualities of these products,” he explained.

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