Food Law News - UK - 2000

14 February 2000: LABELLING - Consumers Want Action on Food Labels

MAFF Press Release (44/00), 14 February 2000

Consumers Want Action on Food Labels

More than half all consumers want more information on food labelling, and most believe information should be presented in a standard form. These are some of the findings of two independent surveys funded by the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food. The main findings are :

Food Safety Minister Baroness Hayman launched the Better Labelling Initiative last month inviting consumers to write in with their views. Of the survey results published today, Lady Hayman said: "This independent research shows how important labels are. Most people say they use food labels to help them make choices when shopping. Consumers particularly want to find out what products are made of, the level of nutrients they contain and how they were produced. The demand for more information about foods is clear but also many people find the information on labels difficult to use and some claims made on labels may confuse or mislead. I hope our current initiative to hear the public's views on food labelling will help us improve the situation in future."

The survey was commissioned by the Ministry to find out how much food labels were used, what information people looked for and ways in which improvements could be made. The survey covered a representative sample of 1,081 people throughout Britain who were responsible for grocery shopping in their household. Baroness Hayman launched the Better Labelling Initiative on 21 January inviting consumers to write in with their views. The address for comments are: Baroness Hayman, Better Food Labelling, MAFF FREEPOST LON15319, London SE8 5BP or email

As part of this initiative leaflets seeking comments will be distributed through supermarkets and libraries. A open meeting will be held in March so that members of the public and consumer organisations can pass their comments directly to Baroness Hayman. The Food Labelling Regulations 1996, SI No 1499 (as amended) implement the European Community Food Labelling Directive 79/112/EEC. Similar, but separate legislation applies in Northern Ireland. These regulations lay down detailed requirements for the labelling of most food.

A copy of the full report entitled "Consumers Attitudes to Food Labelling" is available from The Ministry Library, MAFF, Whitehall Place West Block, London SW1A 2HH.

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