Food labelling standardisation…finally!

On the 19th June 2013 something a lot of us dietitians/nutritionists have been wishing for, and Which? have been campaigning for was finally agreed on…the standardisation of front of pack nutrition labelling. Studies have shown that consumers find the wealth of different nutrition labels from different companies confusing, such as this study by Draper et al. 2011.

Currently packaging can be using the traffic light system/no colours, include dietary information per 100g/per portion/per pack, which can become very laborious to check each individual package when trying to make healthier choices. Previously it has been my recommendation to instead look at the back of the packet and compare each food stuff by 100g of product, as comparing portion size information may result in comparing a 50g portion with a 70g portion. Therefore it would be great to simply be able to look at the front of a packet and instantly assess how many red/orange/green parts there are. Below are just a few examples of the current differences with nutritional labelling you may recognise:

cereal pizza nutrition img-food-labelling-gda m and s

So the EU rules that manufacturers will be standardised in nutritional labelling by December 2016. But any manufacturer that chooses to provide front-of-pack information will have to comply with the EU regulation by the end of 2014. And it will look like this:

new

This will be displayed on the front of food and drink packaging, and will include, per portion:

  • The amount of energy (kJ and kcal)
  • Amount of total fat and saturated fat
  • Amount of sugars
  • Amount of salt
  • With % GDA displayed, energy per 100g, and the traffic light system of red, orange and amber used

A large amount of influential companies have so far signed up, such as:

  • Adelie Foods Group
  • Aldi Stores Ltd
  • Asda Stores Ltd
  • Bernard Matthews
  • Boots
  • Britvic
  • The Co-operative
  • Hain Daniels Group (New Covent Garden Soup)
  • Iceland Foods
  • Lidl UK
  • Lockwoods (Mushy Peas)
  • Marks and Spencer
  • MARS UK
  • Mash Direct
  • McCain Foods
  • Morrisons Ltd
  • Moy Park (Poultry)
  • Nestlé UK
  • Ocado
  • PepsiCo UK
  • Premier Foods
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Tesco Food Stores Ltd
  • URBAN eat
  • Waitrose Ltd
  • Young’s Seafood Limited

Due to this large amount of major food and drink companies signing up to make a change, it is hoped that others will follow suit by December 2014. So hopefully people will find it a bit easier to make healthier choices, however it will be important that these choices are made by looking at the food as a whole and not just how many calories or overall fat it may contain. A product containing healthy unsaturated fats such as nuts, oily fish or avocado may appear to have a high, and therefore unhealthy calorie and total fat rating. And products high in sugars may have a very low fat percentage, but may not be very healthy at all! However this is a step in the right direction in promoting overall public health and making healthier food choices.

In fact this is all part of the Department of Health’s Public Responsibility Deal which was launched in 2011, and has used influential businesses and organisations to make a significant different to England’ public health. Take a look!

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