Consumer lobby group Which? has brought to light a number of bakery products, which could legally be labelled as being ‘low fat’ if proposed EC regulation get the thumbs up next month.
The EC’s regulation (EC) 1924/2006 was passed in May 2006, and was inititally welcomed as it aims to ensure health claims on food are substantiated and to stop claims being put on less healthy food.
However, Which? now believes that “due to pressure from other European governments looking to promote their national products the Commission’s criteria for which foods can carry claims has become unscientific and fundamentally flawed”.
A number of example bakery products have been identified as having less than the Commissions threshold amount of saturated fat - 8g per 100g. A single Tesco jam doughnut, for example, has 5.7g of saturated fat per 100g. Products such as doughnuts, custard tarts and ready salted crisps could therefore carry health and nutrition claims.
Research by Oxford University has found that 93% of products would be able to make nutritional claims if the proposals go through and 60% would be able to make health claims (based on a sample of foods representative of the UK diet).
A number of UK consumer and health organisations, including the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Sustain and Which? have united to try and fight the proposals, and a letter has been sent to the Secretary of State for Health, Alan Johnson MP.
Colin Walker, Senior Public Affairs Officer, Which? said: “The UK Government needs to get these proposals thrown out and completely rewritten. The adoption of these criteria will weaken the fight against obesity and poor diets doing far more harm than good.”