Speaking at a parliamentary debate on dairy farming, the Conservative MP Stephen Crabb said the FSA was making a scapegoat of the dairy industry to make up for failures to address the real causes of obesity.
The founding member of the All-Party Dairy Industry Group in parliament said: “I see from its recent press releases that it sees one of its main jobs as warning people away from dairy products, as part of its campaign against saturated fat.
“The dairy sector is being made a scapegoat by the FSA because of the government’s rank failure to tackle the more profound drivers of obesity in this country.”
The comments come as the FSA launches its campaign to encourage consumers to switch to one per cent milk. Crabb described this publicity drive as the latest stage in the FSA’s anti-dairy campaign.
Responding to the allegations, a spokesperson from the FSA told DairyReporter.com that Crabb had misinterpreted the one per cent milk campaign.
The spokesperson said the £1.65m campaign encourages people to switch to lower fat dairy products and not to abandon them altogether.
With print adverts featuring tag lines like “why not try one per cent milk?”, the FSA claims it is painting dairy in a positive light. The spokesperson said the FSA has the support of Dairy UK and that it worked with the trade body to ensure that the “one per cent” campaign was sensitive about not discouraging dairy consumption.
With a slightly higher fat content than skimmed milk (max 0.5 per cent) but a lower fat content than semi-skimmed (1.5–1.8 per cent), one per cent milk is seen by the FSA as a an effective way to reduce consumption of saturated fat in the UK.
Because milk is so widely and regularly drunk in the country, the FSA says a widespread shift towards lower fat milk options would make a big difference to overall fat intake.