Food Standards Agency to push for single front-of-pack label style

The Food Standards Agency has published a paper, proposing a flexible approach to implementing a single front-of-pack label to help consumers make healthier choices when they buy food.

Food labelling
Food labelling

The paper, which will be discussed at an open board meeting next week, is part of the agency’s strategy of agreeing standards for setting out proposals for front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition labelling.

It follows the publication of its initial principles for FOP labelling in 2006. These are designed to help consumers easily understand the levels of fat, saturated fat, salt and sugars in food products.

The agency claims that currently the majority of UK food manufacturers and retailers are voluntarily using FOP schemes. The board paper will propose that the way information about the amount of fat, saturated fat, salt and sugars in a product is presented should use three elements: traffic light colours, text and % GDAs.

It adds that to assist the transition to this single approach, some flexibility has been included within the proposals, which allow a minimum of two elements to be used initially.

Tim Smith, Food Standards Agency chief executive, says: “This approach is all about what consumers have told us they want. Independent research and citizens’ forums told us that people were confused and wanted a single approach developed by government. We also appreciate and understand that food businesses are starting from different positions. Our proposals respond to what consumers want but also provide some flexibility for business.”

The FSA Board will discuss these proposals at its open meeting on 10 March in Cardiff. Following the Board’s decision, the Agency will then formally submit its recommendations on FOP to health ministers.

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