FSA News Item, 26 July 2007
The Agency has today issued advice for food manufacturers and retailers about the use of 1% fat milk as an ingredient in food.
Many manufacturers are not aware that they can legally use 1% fat milk in their products. It has a slightly higher fat content than skimmed milk (max 0.5%) but lower than semi-skimmed (1.5–1.8%). Using it in place of higher fat milk could enable some manufacturers to reduce saturated fat and calories in their products.
Rosemary Hignett, Head of Nutrition at the FSA, said:
'During our discussions with industry about saturated fat levels, it emerged that there was some confusion about using 1% fat milk as a food ingredient.
'We hope that this advice will clarify the situation for manufacturers and retailers and, where appropriate, result in 1% fat milk being used in place of other higher fat milk ingredients. It could potentially be used in a wide range of products such as sauces and dairy desserts.
'Using 1% milk could help to reduce saturated fat levels in some foods and would be a positive move for the consumer.'
Details of the Advice
Status and labelling of 1% fat milk as a food ingredient
This advice has been issued in consultation with the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and, in Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government.
The Food Standards Agency is developing a programme on saturated fat and energy intake to address the public health concerns relating to the high intakes of saturated fat and intakes of calories in excess of need. As part of the developing programme and in response to stakeholder enquiries, the Agency has clarified the status and labelling of 1%-fat milk as a food ingredient.
The Drinking Milk Regulations 1998 (which implement Council Regulation (EC) No 2597/97) prescribe the fat-content bands to which drinking milks (whole, semi-skimmed and skimmed) must conform. Defra has advised that these Regulations apply to drinking milk intended for delivery or sale without processing to the final consumer. Milk intended for use as a food ingredient in food products is therefore not subject to these provisions. There is therefore no prohibition on the use of milk containing 1% fat as an ingredient in food products.
Under the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 (as amended), the name used for a food should be sufficiently precise to inform consumers of the true nature of that food and to enable the food to be distinguished from products with which it could be confused and should if necessary, include a description of its use. Further, where the food is being used as an ingredient, the name used for it in the list of ingredients shall be a name which, if the ingredient in question were itself being sold as a food, could be used as the name of the food. It is the Food Standards Agency's opinion that the term ‘1%-fat milk' is sufficiently precise to ensure that consumers are not misled into believing that this milk ingredient is whole milk, semi-skimmed milk or skimmed milk.
Similarly, the name used for this ingredient where it appears in the product name must be sufficiently precise as to ensure that consumers are not misled into believing that the milk ingredient is whole milk, semi-skimmed milk or skimmed milk.