Currently, in the UK, supermarkets and food producers use labels and packaging to help people understand the contents of their food, however with a number of different systems in place, there is a certain amount of confusion for shoppers. As a result of this, the government has decided to create a consistent system for food labeling that will appear on the front of packets of food within the next year.
Although the scheme will be on a voluntary basis, it is hoped that the food industry will get on board for the initiative. The system will consist of the daily guidelines, color coding with high medium and low scaling in regards to sugar, salt, and fat, as well as the number of calories each product provides. The exact design of the labeling system is not yet decided upon; however, this is set to be confirmed very soon. If the talks go well then this could be the end of a long-drawn-out campaign for the introduction of the front of package labeling for food products.
The issue has been in discussions for the past decade with those for it seeing it as a way to help improve growing concerns over the rise in obesity. The introduction of a consistent labeling system has been difficult to push through and has resulted in a number of different systems being used over this period. In order to make the scheme mandatory, it would require regulations to be formalized at a European level, however, it has been difficult to form an agreement between countries.
Anna Soubry, the Public Health Minister, commented that the UK has the largest number of products with the front of pack labels throughout Europe but there is an amount of confusion amongst consumers due to the variety of different labeling systems. A consistent system will help to remove this confusion, where a person will quickly be able to tell the nutritional value of something at a glance. The system will allow people to make a more informed decision, helping people to take control of their calorie intake and have a healthier overall diet.
Obesity and poor diets are a huge problem in the UK and are costing the NHS billions of pounds each year. With this new system, there’s the potential for people to make small changes to their diet that could greatly affect their overall health, which could cut the number of serious illnesses occurring including things like heart disease. The new system is expected to be in place by the summer of 2013.