Nutrition labelling

The UK Department of Health (DH) has launched a country-wide consultation on front-of-pack (FoP) nutrition labelling to allow consumers to compare the nutritional information provided on the food they buy.

UK health ministers want to see all food manufacturers and retailers using the same system to display the quantity of fat, salt, sugar and calories on the front of product packs.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said including nutrition information across a wide range of products could help consumers improve their diets and control calorie intakes.

Around 80% of food products sold in the UK already have some form of FoP labelling, but different retailers and manufacturers have different ways of labelling which can be confusing for consumers.

Some use labels showing Guideline Daily Amount (%GDA) and some use traffic light colour coding which highlights fat, sugar and salt content, and some use both.

The use of same labelling by the biggest seven supermarkets for their own brand foods will equate to around 50% of the food sold in the UK and would also encourage others to do the same.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said putting on weight and having an unhealthy diet can lead to serious illnesses such as cancer and type 2 diabetes.

"Offering a single nutrition labelling system makes common sense, it would help us all to make healthier choices and keep track of what we eat," Lansley added.

The consultation, which runs until 6 August, aims to maintain and extend the use of FoP labelling across the widest possible range of food and drink products, and achieve a clear consistency in the content and presentation of nutrition labelling.

Image: Unified nutrition labelling on the front of food packs could help consumers improve their diets and control calories intakes.Photo: Stuart Miles