The Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) position as the nation’s nutritional guardian appears to be slipping as fellow government quango the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) publishes conflicting advice on saturated fats.

FSA guidelines published earlier this year called for a 10% reduction in saturated fat in plain cakes by 2012 and a 5% reduction in non-plain cakes by 2014, with the aim of reducing the nation’s intake of saturated fat from 13.3% of the food we eat to below 11% this year. But NICE is now calling for manufacturers to further reduce the levels of saturated fat in all food products, and to eliminate the use of dangerous trans fats from processed food and take-aways. It says a further substantial reduction would greatly reduce cardiovascular disease and related deaths.

An announcement on government plans to transfer the FSA’s responsibilities for nutritional advice to the Department of Health is expected soon, confirmed a spokeswoman.

NICE added that although it was completely separate to the FSA, it had been involved as a stakeholder in the production of the guidance on sat fats.