Food Law News - UK - 1997
10 November 1997: LABELLING - Food Labels: The Government's Position
MAFF Press Release (344/97), 10 November 1997
Food Labels: The Government's Position
Food manufacturers who deliberately mis-label their products will be prosecuted.
This stark warning was given by Food Safety Minister Jeff Rooker today. All labels on food must meet strict UK rules and regulations. The Government wants better, clearer labels that give consumers as much information as possible. Labels must always describe products honestly .
Mr Rooker said:
"This Government gives consumers top priority. Clear, accurate labelling on food is vital to give the public an informed choice. The food industry has a responsibility to give its customers good quality, safe food, and tell them exactly what ingredients are used. If we want to restore consumer confidence, the food industry must be seen as truthful, honest, and scrupulously fair in the way they describe and label their products."
Since May the Government has announced a number of changes to improve British labelling laws:
- Already, the Government has published the names of brands tested in food surveys, so that consumers can see how the products they buy have performed. The first survey revealed the names of those who had added water to pork products without labelling them correctly. More surveys are to follow.
- From the year 2000, under EU law, it will be compulsory to label the percentage quantity of the main ingredients in all foods. The Government wants the food industry to start doing this voluntarily now.
- From 1 January 1998, anything but the simplest claims on fresh and frozen beef labels will need approval by a Government appointed checker.
- From 31 March 1999 slimmers will be protected from food labels that falsely claim to reduce hunger and make people lose weight. Manufacturers making false claims that cannot be proved will be prosecuted.
- The Government wants all foods that may contain genetically modified ingredients to be labelled, so that consumers have more choice.
- The Government is also targeting food manufacturers and caterers to make them more aware of the need to label foods for nuts, seeds and shellfish, which can kill people with very severe allergies.
- Britain wants consumer choice to be added as one of the fundamental goals of all European food law. It also wants all labels to be simpler and easier for ordinary people to understand.
Jeff Rooker said:
"This is just the start. We will be looking at all areas, leaving no stone unturned, in order to give consumers a better deal."
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