New food labelling system to start in summer
A new consistent system of front of pack food labelling will be introduced in the summer the UK government has announced.The new food labelling system is a combination of guideline daily amounts, colour coding and “high, medium or low” wording will be used to show how much fat, salt and sugar and how many calories are in each product.
The scheme will be voluntary, but ministers are confident they have the food industry on board.
Talks will take place over the exact design of the labels. If those discussions go well it could mark the end of what has been a long-running campaign to introduce front of pack labelling.
The issue has been under discussion for the past decade with campaigners seeing it as a way of tackling the rising rates of obesity.
But the introduction of a consistent system has proved difficult, and instead a range of different labels have gradually been introduced over the years.
Despite the government’s confident announcement, this is still not quite a done deal.
Within the food industry – and particularly among manufacturers rather than the supermarkets themselves – there are still grumblings about front of pack labelling.
But after years of discussions and research and a detailed consultation over the summer, ministers are effectively sticking their necks out to force the sector over the line.
If a consistent system is not in place by the summer of next year the government will feel it can lay the blame elsewhere.
Some retailers and manufacturers have used “traffic-light” labelling, in which the least healthy foods are labelled red and the most healthy are in green, while others use guideline daily amounts – or GDAs – which give the percentage of recommended intake. Some use both.
There has also been confusion over how a system could be introduced.
To make it mandatory, regulations would have to be agreed on a European level, but agreement between countries has been hard to reach.
So the situation has meant that the UK government sought to introduce a voluntary system.
Public Health Minister Anna Soubry said: “The UK already has the largest number of products with front-of-pack labels in Europe, but research has shown that consumers get confused by the wide variety of labels used.
“By having a consistent system we will all be able to see, at a glance, what is in our food. This will help us all choose healthier options and control our calorie intake.
“Obesity and poor diet cost the NHS billions of pounds every year. Making small changes to our diet can have a big impact on our health and could stop us getting serious illnesses – such as heart disease – later in life.”
Tags: Conservatives, diabetes, diets, Health Direct, Health Websites, healthcare, obese, weight loss