Current and Future Changes to Front-of-Pack Labelling
Front-of-pack labelling is still a work in progress, as new systems and ways to present nutritional information are continuously being created and applied to many countries.
The WHO European Food and Nutrition Action Plan 2015-2020 (PDF) is set in ensuring that countries develop and implement front-of-pack labelling that is easy to understand and provides information that aids consumers in making healthier choices. Amongst others, these changes seek to create healthy food and drink environments, promote healthier diets, and strengthen governance, alliances and networks to ensure a health-in-all-policies approach.
France is one of the first countries in the WHO European Region to adopt the Nutri-Score system, or 5-Colour Nutrition Label, which also offers a nutrient profiling system in addition to the traffic light method. This system is based on the UK Food Standards Agency Model, and food and drinks are classified according to five categories of nutrition, from green (grade A) to red (Grade E).
The Nutri-Score has been considered the most user-friendly by a study that compared the validity of several methods in France, and the country has been commended for this new form of labelling.
In the UK, food labelling and packaging also follow certain guidelines that aim to inform consumers about what they are purchasing, eating and drinking at an in-depth level.
As of now, UK labels must include:
- The name of the food
- A ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date, or where to find it
- Any food warnings
- Net quantity information (in grams, kilograms, millilitres or litres)
- A list of the ingredients used if there is more than one
- The name and address of the manufacturer, packer or seller
- The country of origin, if needed (for example, for meats and fish)
- The lot number or use-by date
- Any special storage instructions
- Instructions for use or cooking, if needed
Following a recent proposal made by many of the world’s largest food companies, front-of-pack labelling in the UK may start to include portion-based plans as well. Some of these food industry giants include Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Mars and PepsiCo, which presented the plan to the European Commission in Luxembourg.
The UK already has colour-coded labels, so this ‘traffic light’ method would be implemented across the rest of mainland Europe. However, a new proposal will include the addition of portion sizes to UK’s front-of-pack labels. This could revolutionise the way food labelling takes place in the country, but has not, unsurprisingly, been seen as controversial.
For example, products such as cheese and biscuits could see their labels go from red to amber when it comes to salt, fat and sugar (if these ingredients are less than 15% of the recommended daily reference intake).
This is because these food companies believe that the UK’s current system does not account for portion sizes. Therefore, it does not take into account “the way people actually consume food”, in the words of Francesco Tramontin, Mondelez Director of Public Affairs Europe.
Which?, the independent consumer body, strongly opposes the proposals. According to Sue Davis, Strategic Policy Adviser, “Rather than developing new traffic light labelling schemes, we want to see all leading manufactures supporting the existing UK scheme. This was based on consumer research and board consultation and recognises that it is of most value to have a scheme that is applied on a per 100g or ml basis.”
However, it is too early to say if and how this proposal will develop.
KLBD Kosher believes that accurate and informative labelling is crucial in the food industry. Contact us to learn more about getting Kosher certified and start enjoying the benefits that kosher labelling offers.