Industry explains GDAs on food labels

Related tags Food Nutrition Fdf

Efforts by food manufacturers to create 'user-friendly' food labels
that present clear nutrition profiles for the increasingly health
conscious consumer are the focus of a new initiative from the UK's
food industry body, writes Lindsey Partos.

Launching a new initiative for the consumer, the Food and Drink Federation said it is "helping consumers better understand what's in the food they buy."

Distributed through the British Dietetic Association (UK dietician organisation), on the FDF's website​, and at consumer focused exhibitions, the FDF hopes the information "will help consumers make informed dietary choices."

Consumer organisations have come down hard on the food industry, deeming food labels as confusing and inappropriate.

This latest label initiative, part of the food and drink manifesto set out recently by the manufacturing industry, is a move to appease the criticisms and tackle consumer concerns.

"Better information helps consumers to construct a balanced diet from the thousands of food and drink products available.

Understanding the information on a food label, and in particular how GDAs (Guideline Daily Amounts) work as a simple 'ready reckoner', will help consumers see clearly how the food they buy fits into their overall diet,"​ says FDF deputy director general Martin Paterson.

GDAs have provoked a mixed reaction in the UK. The government's food watchdog, the Food Standards Agency has rejected the idea in favour of a multiple traffic light system (criticised by food firms as too simplistic): labels that alert the consumer to high, medium or low levels of key nutrients.

Backing up its position, the FSA published research last November that claimed UK consumers had a preference for the traffic light system.

Despite the FSA position, industry continues to endorse the GDAs.

"Companies like Kellogg's, Kraft, Unilever and Walkers are carrying the GDA on their products,"​ a spokesperson for the FDF tells

And the British arm of Nestlé recently revamped its nutrition labels, printing guideline daily amounts for calories and fat alongside per serving nutritional information across its whole UK product portfolio, including confectionery, breakfast cereals, coffee and pasta.

In addition to the food industry, the UK's National Farmer's Union also supports the GDA notion. ""This will present a standardised, factual message to consumers with no potential to be misleading. Any profiling and signposting system must not result in mis-categorisation of food,"​ the UK union said recently.

But while the seven-page leaflet can be accessed through various sources, it will not be available at the actual point of sale for consumers, the retailer.

"As far as I'm aware, the leaflet will not be going into supermarkets,"​ says the FDF spokesperson.

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