Friday, September 30, 2005

Troubles Rising For The UK's FSA Profiling

The UK's Food Standards Agency's (FSA) profiling proposal, developed at the end of July, used zero as a benchmark, with positive scores indicating unhealthy products and minus scores pointing to healthier options, according to NutraIngredients/Europe.

Using this benchmark process has lumped some foods/drinks formerly believed to be quite healthy into the unhealthy category...

For example, using the new FSA benchmark, whole, semi-skimmed and flavoured milk have the same health value as diet fizzy drinks -- they would be no better for you than drinking a Diet Coke. All got a score of zero.

In another example, olive oil is portrayed through this new profiling, to be less healthy than a range of potato crisps, chocolate biscuits and cakes. Olive oil received a score of 20, despite a number of studies showing that a so-called Mediterranean diet, with a high ratio of monounsaturated fatty acids (mostly olive oil) to polyunsaturated fatty acids, has a protective effect on the heart.

The current profiling scheme means that even breast milk would fall into the bad-health category of 'high in saturated fat, salt or sugar' and the positioning of cheese on the 'scorecard' would result in being similarly unsuitable.

Dairy UK was reported to have serious concerns about the FSA's profiling. "We question the omission of micronutrients such as protein quality, minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium, as well as vitamins A and B," said Ed Komorowski, Dairy UK's technical director, as part of an FSA consultation period that ended this week.

Don't feel too bad. When the USDA came out with it's ORAC testing/rating system to rate the antioxidant power of foods/juices... the test didn't even acknowledge carotenoids.

Methinks both groups should go back to the drawing board ...but that's just my humble opinion.