Govt to launch public education on hybrid food labels

21st August 2013 - Fine Cut

The UK government is set to educate members of the public about new food labelling techniques as part of an education campaign, it has emerged.

To coincide with the Department of Health's new hybrid front-of-pack nutrition classification programme, the voluntary initiative has been backed by around 60 per cent of manufacturers, health lobby groups and Britain's major retailers.

As part of the campaign, food packaging will feature coloured traffic lights to warn individuals about the levels of fat, energy, saturated fat, sugar and salt per 100g of the product, reports 
Food Manufacture.

Food manufacturers around the European Union are currently said to be working together to devise a consistent approach for portion size designation, in order to make the labels easier to understand for health-conscious consumers.

The new labels aim to encourage members of the public to take a more responsible approach to the food they consume, while also informing them of how many calories each product contains.

While the labels have been hailed as an effective method of keeping shoppers educated about the fat content of their purchases, critics of the scheme have claimed that unless members of the public change their purchasing behaviour there will be little improvement to public health.

For this reason, the Department of Health has announced plans to run a consumer education campaign. Alette Addison - food information and promotions manager at the government body - noted that nutrition labelling is not the only one factor that influences shoppers.

Speaking during a presentation on food labelling policy at a seminar organised by the Westminster Food and Nutrition Forum in London last month, Ms Addison said price, habit and brands have a far greater impact on consumers.

However, professor Alan Maryon-Davis, from the Department of Primary Care and Public Health Sciences at King's College in London, said the adoption of the hybrid labels will become a major tool against obesity, heart disease and stroke.

He added: "It is music to my ears and a lot of people in the public health lobby."

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