The sweet bakery industry was left "gob-smacked" by the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) decision to include calorie reduction as part of its consul-tation on cutting saturated fat in baked goods.

As widely expected, the FSA has proposed voluntary targets - described as "recommendations" in the consultation - for cutting saturated fat in biscuits, cakes, pastries and buns by between 5-10% by 2012, compared to 2008 levels. However, proposals that the cuts should be accompanied by a calorie reduction took industry by surprise.

"Calorie reduction was not discussed in any of the meetings we had in the run-up to the consultation being announced, so we were gob-smacked to see them included," said Barbara Gallani, manager of the Biscuits, Cakes, Confectionery and Chocolate Sector of the Food and Drink Federation. "Calorie reduction raises very different challenges compared to just reducing saturated fat and we will be responding strongly to the proposal during the consultation."

Stan Cauvain, director of bakery consultancy BakeTran, told British Baker that calorie reduction in bakery products was "hugely difficult". "Reducing saturated fat in bakery products is, to varying degrees, achie-vable by using alternative fats. But reducing saturated fat and calories at the same time is a much bigger and more difficult task that means every component of a product will have to be looked at and its composition completely re-engineered," he said. "The FSA may risk alienating industry with these proposals."

The consultation, which also covers chocolate and soft drinks, closes on 3 November.