Page last updated at 00:07 GMT, Saturday, 27 March 2010

Mini portion plea for food makers

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Food manufacturers are being asked to start making smaller versions of unhealthy snacks to help the public stick to a healthier diet.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) also wants food producers to cut saturated fat in their biscuits, cakes, and chocolates.

It insisted that the recommendations were not about telling people what to eat, just offering them more choice.

The agency has no powers to force manufacturers to change their products.

One of the more striking requests is for a smaller soft drink can to be offered alongside the standard 330ml version.

This isn't about telling people what to eat - we want to make it easier for people to make healthier choices
Dr Clair Baynton, FSA

An FSA spokesman said that snacks and soft drinks were the biggest contributors to calories and saturated fats in the average diet, and that manufacturers were being asked to tackle their biggest-selling products first to maximise the impact of any changes.

It wants saturated fat in chocolate bars with fillings, and in plain, sweet and savoury biscuits and cakes cut by a tenth.

FSA head of nutrition Dr Clair Baynton said: "Food businesses regularly review their ingredients and processes, as well as portion sizes, and the aim of these recommendations is to encourage them to consider how they can play a part in improving public health by reducing saturated fat intakes.

"This isn't about telling people what to eat - we want to make it easier for people to make healthier choices - to choose food with reduced saturated fat and sugar - or smaller portion sizes."

Easy option

The recommendations were backed by the British Heart Foundation.

A spokesman said: "It's easy to tuck into treats such as biscuits, cakes and sugary drinks without realising just how packed full of calories, fats, salts and sugars they are.

"Reducing portion sizes and the amount of saturated fat in foods will help to improve the nation's diet and help tackle obesity and heart disease."

A spokesman for the Food and Drink Federation - which represents manufacturers - said that its members were "rightly proud" of the work they had already done to cut calories and fat.

"Our members have been rising to this particular challenge for a number of years - and are now leading the world when it comes to developing new products and refreshing old favourites."

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