The UK's Food Standards Agency launched its saturated fat reduction programme last week, aiming to cut intake amongst people aged over the age of five years from 13.3 per cent of total energy intake to 11 per cent by 2010. The agency proposed that this reduction would be brought by collaboration with food manufacturers over reformulating products high in the fat, which has been linked to increased risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease, as well as consumer education campaigns. However Leatherhead tabled its new research programme ahead of the programme, which came as no surprise since the FSA conducted a consultation on saturated fat and energy intake last year. The findings highlighted several food categories that are significant contributors to saturated fat in the diet. These include bakery, and according to Leatherhead short crust pastry is a major culprit since it typically contains about 30 per cent fat, a third of which is saturated. The first stage of the Leatherhead study (which started in January and will run until the end of the year) will involve a literature review, and a survey of products presently available that can help lower total or saturated fat in short crust pastry, with a particular focus on store cupboard and clean-label ingredients. In addition, the researchers will be scouting out technologies that may have a part to play in lowering saturated fat content. The FSA has accepted that reducing saturated fat in foods brings a set of technical challenges - more, even, than its parallel programme of salt reduction. Although short crust pastry is being seen as an important starting point for the project, it is by no means the sole target of the project. Indeed, Leatherhead is aiming to establish protocols that can be transferred to other bakery products like cakes and puff pastry. To this end, the researchers will develop "optimal short crust recipes" suitable for preparation on a manufacturing scale. They will then assess samples for their processability, product quality and organoleptic properties. "By protocols we meant a form of guidance in terms of available fats and available fat replacers that can be applied in other pastry categories," project leader Pretima Titoria told FoodNavigator.com. The FSA has said it expects that sticking to the recommendations on saturated fat could help prevent as many as 3,500 deaths in the UK each year as a result of lifestyle-related diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. In addition to bakery, a spokesperson for the FSA told FoodNavigator.com that other food categories identified as major contributors to saturated fat in the diet are meat and meat products, dairy products (including dairy desserts), fat spreads, snack-type products and potato products (such as crisps), confectionery and drinks (including soft drinks).