BRC says changes to food labelling would be premature

The British Retail Consortium has counselled caution to recommendations made in a Food Standards Agency commissioned report into front-of-pack (FOP) labelling, saying changing the UK regime would be “premature”.

The response is sparked by findings from the FSA’s Project Management Panel, which recommends a single FOP scheme would be more beneficial to shoppers.

The report found that the presence of different types of FOP labelling schemes in the UK make it more difficult for shoppers.

It also found that overall, the strongest FOP label is one which combines use of the words “high, medium, and low”, traffic light colours and percentage of Guideline Daily Amount (GDA), in addition to levels of nutrients in a portion of the product.

But the BRC says the new research is only one piece of available information which will need to be analysed with the “mass of evidence retailers already have before any decisions are made”.

The retail body adds that research is also underway as part of a European Union review.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson (pictured), says: “Until a final decision about a front-of-pack labelling scheme is taken at a European level, it would be premature for the UK to adopt any new regime of its own. Changing and then changing again would just produce extra costs and customer confusion.”

The Food and Drink Federation has echoed the BRC’s view. Julian Hunt, FDF director of communications, says: “This is only one research study that will need to be considered carefully by policy makers both here and Brussels.”

In light of the report, the FSA will now take the findings to the UK Government, which has already signalled that it wants a single labelling system for the entire food industry.

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