Date Published: 18 January 2010

UK Consumers set for another milk revolution ?

Health Food - illustrating an item from the UK Food Standards Agency.

A new survey published today by the UK Food Standards Agency, to coincide with the launch of phase 2 of the saturated fat campaign, found that people who regularly use semi-skimmed milk would be happy to switch to drinking an even lower fat milk.

1% fat milk, now on sale in most supermarkets, is almost half the fat of semi-skimmed. Most people who drink semi like the taste of 1% fat milk just as much and it has the important nutritional benefits of other milk.

Dr Clair Baynton, Head of Nutrition at the FSA, said:

" In the 1970s full fat milk was very much the norm but since then we have seen a decisive shift to semi-skimmed, which now outsells full fat by quite a margin.

Our research shows that people are prepared to consider switching to 1% fat milk and those who regularly use semi-skimmed like the taste as much. We tend to use milk on a daily basis so this small step will make a big contribution to reducing our saturated fat.

1% fat milk still gives us the important nutritional benefits, including calcium, protein, minerals and vitamins but with half the fat of semi - something that simple but beneficial has got to be worth trying! "

The UK-wide survey of consumer attitudes to 1% fat milk found that three quarters of consumers liked the taste just as much as semi-skimmed. The research involved an at-home trial period (around five days) with households substituting semi-skimmed for 1% fat milk. It found that while 56% were able to taste a difference, 94% or more found it to be an acceptable alternative across a range of uses, including in hot drinks, over cereal, as a drink on its own, in milk shakes and in cooking. And 85% of those who gave it to their children said they did not notice the switch when given the lower fat milk.

In any one day many people will have milk with their cereal, in their teas and coffees, in home-made sauces and puddings and so on. This could easily amount to about half a pint (around 300ml) a day, or over two litres a week. So, with whole milk you'd get about 80 grams of total fat a week, while using semi-skimmed would reduce this to 40 grams. By switching to 1% you'd halve the total fat again, to just 20 grams. It is also suitable for children aged over five years.

Fat content of milk:

  • Full fat ? on average 3.5% (between 3-4%)
  • Semi-skimmed ? about 1.7%
  • 1% milk ? as it says, just 1%
  • Skimmed ? 0.1%

1% milk is almost half the fat of semi but most people who drink semi-skimmed like the taste just as much and it still has the important nutritional benefits of milk.

Today, 18th January 2010, the FSA has launched phase 2 of its saturated fat campaign, which follows on from the initial launch in February last year. Phase 2, consisting of press, poster and radio advertisements, centres on positive simple tips to help people cut down on their saturated fat intake. It will feature a new print advertisement that will encourage people to think about switching to 1% fat milk - and these posters will be prominent outside supermarkets.

Over time a diet high in saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels in the blood, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Coronary heart disease causes more than 90,000 deaths a year in the UK: approximately one in five deaths in men and one in six deaths in women.


Source: Food Standards Agency (FSA), UK.

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