Cheese could carry a health alert

DAIRY foods could soon have to carry cigarette-style health warnings in a bid to slash Britain's soaring levels of obesity and heart disease, according to a report yesterday.

The health warnings would be aimed at urging people to cut down on the amount of saturated fat they eat and make dairy products an occasional treat rather than a regular part of their diet.

According to the trade magazine the Grocer, the government's Food Standards Agency is considering using shock tactics to persuade Britons to cut down on their consumption of saturated fats. The crackdown could target a wide range of regular snack staples such as cheese sandwiches and hot buttered toast, which watchdogs warn are high in saturated fats.

The Grocer says that the food watchdog is also considering asking manufacturers of products high in saturated fat, such as cheese and butter, to put cigarette-style warnings on packs which would urge consumers to eat such products in moderation or as a rare treat.

The move would form part of a publicity campaign developed under the FSA's strategy to cut consumption of fat.

A consumer study conducted for the agency by CMI Research found that an approach based on shock tactics was considered "successful in challenging complacent attitudes and preconceptions of saturated fat".