However, swift action on this is now seen as increasingly unlikely given the uncertainty over the future role and remit of the FSA.
Speaking to FoodManufacture.co.uk ahead of an ice cream meeting at the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) on Monday (May 24), R&R Ice Cream project development manager Matthew Ambler said lobbying efforts on this front were “not on hold, but obviously in the current climate things have slowed”.
Under the Food Labelling Regulations (1996) products called 'ice cream' sold in the UK must contain at least 5% fat and 2.5% milk protein. As a consequence, firms making significant reductions in fat are forced to use terms such as 'iced desserts'.
Elsewhere in Europe, however, such rules did not apply, with firms typically adhering to the European Ice Cream Association's (Euroglace) code of practice, said Ambler.
Euroglace did not include a minimum requirement for milk protein content or fat content in non-dairy ice cream, he said. And while dairy ice cream still had to have 5% fat from a dairy source, there was “no minimum requirement for milk protein other than it must come from a dairy source”.
Euroglace code of practice
He added: “Adopting Euroglace would therefore open up potential reformulation options that could reduce the total fat and saturated fat of ice cream, particularly in the non-dairy sector.”
In its recent consultation on saturated fat reduction, the FSA said tweaking UK legislation to bring it in line with Euroglace would offer the “greatest flexibility for future innovation”.
If stakeholders agreed, the FSA would “develop detailed proposals which will be subject to further public consultation and will be accompanied by a full impact assessment”, a spokeswoman told FoodManufacture.co.uk this week.
“The consultation finished in March and we are still going through responses. The aim is to publish our recommendations in the summer, subject to ministerial agreement.”
'Business as usual' at the FSA?
While the lack of clarity over the future remit of the FSA following the election has cast doubt over this and other initiatives driven by the FSA on food labelling, health and nutrition, a spokeswoman insisted it was “business as usual” at the FSA.
She added: “We are carrying on as normal.”
The FDF meeting on Monday will cover lobbying for the UK to move to the Euroglace code of practice and reduction of energy and saturated fat in ice cream.
In an interview with FoodManufacture.co.uk in January, Unilever said a change in rules would “give further impetus for the whole industry to make reductions, particularly in scooping”.