The UK’s food watchdog today (25 March) ruled that a protein cap used in guidelines that determine which foods are advertised during children’s TV programmes should remain in place.

The Food Standards Agency Board agreed with advice from a panel that has been reviewing the “nutrient profiling” model, which is used to clear which foods can be promoted during programmes most watched by children.

The panel had been asked to consider whether the protein cap, which is included in the model to mitigate against processed foods high in fat, salt or sugar being classified as ‘healthier’ by virtue of their protein content, was warranted.

Despite opposition from the food industry, the panel said the cap should stay and today the FSA’s board endorsed that advice.

The FSA said removing the cap would have allowed products including breakfast cereals and some crisps to be advertised around kids’ TV shows.

“The Board takes the diets of children very seriously and we feel that it is not appropriate to relax the model,” FSA chair Deirdre Hutton said.

Last week, the Food and Drink Federation had claimed that the panel had proposed scrapping the protein cap but that “at the last minute” and “without consultation”, the recommendation was overturned.

Today, the FDF said it was “disappointed” with the FSA’s decision. Director general Melanie Leech said: “Yet again a proposal has been introduced at the last minute, outside the process of scientific review and stakeholder consultation.

“Looking forward, we have to ask how industry can plan in such an environment of regulatory uncertainty,” Leech said. “We will be calling on the FSA to clarify when it expects to base its decisions on science, and when – and on what basis – it will think it appropriate to set the science aside.”