FZMR11-Keeping the Customer Informed – The Challenge for Food Businesses

Module Provider: Food and Nutritional Sciences
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr David Jukes

Email: d.j.jukes@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

On-line distance learning

Summary module description:

It is often stated that consumers have a right to know what is in their food.  Consumers, however, are interested in different things based on culture, preferences, economics and background.  Unlike much of food regulation where risk analysis can be used to determine appropriate safety controls, the amount of information that is legally required relating to composition and quality is more a political or societal choice.  In addition, there are many opportunities for products to be marketed with much more detailed information than the legally required minimum but that information has to be accurate.

For the regulators, the issue is to determine what to set as minimum requirements and what to make as voluntary additions.  For industry and retailers, trying to maximise sales through marketing strategies means that labels and advertisements need to give positive messages linked to perceived consumers requirements.  But such messages need to be true and verifying their validity may have a cost to the business.

This module will explore the issues raised when seeking to establish effective controls on the provision of food information to consumers.  A major element of the module is built around aspects of the main European Union controls established by Regulation 1169/2011 including ingredients’ listing, date marking, country of origin labelling and nutrition information.  However, aspects found in other legislation will also be considered: health and nutrition claims and the labelling of genetically modified foods are examples of two key areas.


The module aims to enhance a student’s ability to:

  • Comply with food labelling requirements

  • Effectively communicate with marketing personal on the validity and appropriateness of planned marketing campaigns

  • Establish company policies for responding to consumer requests for information on products

  • Appreciate the context in which food labelling and marketing rules are determined and be able to contribute to their future development

  • Be aware of that in different jurisdictions around the world, there are varied and different requirements

Assessable learning outcomes:

On successful completion of the module learners will be able to:

  • Contribute to the development of legal labels

  • Assess whether food advertisements meet industry standards

  • Prepare reasoned arguments for limiting the legal requirements for food information

  • Prepare reasoned arguments for supporting additional legal requirements for food information

Additional outcomes:

The following transferable skills will be developed in this module:

  • Critical evaluation and dissemination of information from a variety of sources

Outline content:

The module consists of 8 weeks of distance learning material followed by a four week period for the writing of material for the final assessment.  The initial week sets the context of the issues to be considered in the module.  Subsequent weeks will tackle specific topics and will consider the deeper implications of the issue being considered (see subtitles indicated below for examples of the implications which might be considered). 

  • Overview of consumer requirements and expectations for food information including international legal requirements for the provision of food information but with a focus on the European Union Regulation 1169/2011.

  • Topic 1: Food Additives and E-numbers – What do consumers feel about chemicals?

  • Topic 2: Date marking – Does misunderstanding lead to excessive food waste?

  • Topic 3: Country of Origin Labelling – If it is safe, does it matter where food comes from?

  • Topic 4: Nutrition Labelling – Can nutrition labelling rules improve dietary outcomes?

  • Topic 5: Claims – A marketing gimmick or a valued consumer benefit based on sound science?

  • Topic 6: Genetically Modified Foods – Have GM labelling rules benefitted consumers?

  • Reflection and review of topics and implications for food businesses, national authority regulators and consumers.

Note that above list is indicative of the likely topics but may be subject to change.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The module is delivered entirely on-line with weekly blocks of learning material.  This includes short video lectures setting out key points and providing examples of the issues under consideration. This is supported by providing access to a combination of official material (for example relevant regulations or official publications), publications by campaigning organisations and research papers. Interaction between students is encouraged using the virtual learning environment (Blackboard) discussion boards.

The module consists of 8 weeks of distance learning material followed by a four week period for the writing of material for the final assessment.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Tutorials 20
Guided independent study 80
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Report 70
Set exercise 30

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

The 3 short assessed exercises will be set at the start of Weeks 3, 5 and 7 for submission at the end of weeks 4, 6 and 8 (10% each).  The final written report (2000-3000 words) will be set in Week 8 for submission within 4 weeks of the close of the module.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Assessment requirements for a pass:

A mark of 50% overall in all assessed work.

Reassessment arrangements:

In the event of a student failing the module they will be reassessed based on resubmission of failed coursework assignments or equivalent pieces of work. 

Module marks are capped at 50% for passes at 2nd attempt.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 17 September 2018


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