Website aims to solve food labelling confusion

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food labelling, Nutrition

A new website due to launch in the UK next year aims to reduce consumer confusion over food labelling and ingredients, and enable tailored searching for products that meet specific needs.

There has been considerable discussion in recent years over food labelling, and the best way to present nutrition labelling on food packs, in advance of new European legislation that is currently being drawn up.

In the UK, the FSA has favoured a ‘traffic light labels’ to signal foods with a healthier profile. However many manufacturers have adopted the CIAA’s proportion-led guidance daily amount scheme – and some, like supermarket Asda, have plumped for a combination of the two.

According to the architects of, however, consumers are “confused by the different nutritional labelling systems, bewildered by the various accreditation schemes on offer, and find some of the language used on packaging hard to understand or ambiguous”.

They are now inviting food manufacturers to register their product lines on the site, which will go live in January 2009. The brainchild of Ian Duncan, it is designed to be a searchable database of information about food and drink products – and it is free for consumers to use.

In particular, it is intended to help people who have allergies, or who are seeking special products like reduced-salt, identify products suitable for them.

Moreover, given the increasing number of parameters by which consumers decide what to eat – such as local, fair trade and organic – the system is said to help with the search for products that tick several boxes.

The site is not an outlet; it does not sell products itself. However users can find information about where to buy the products they want.

On board already claims to be completely independent, and will not carry any advertising; nor is there any way for a manufacturer to enhance its listing in any way.

Duncan, who used to work in advertising, has obtained the backing of both the Food Standards Agency and the Food and Drink Federation. But while both these organizations’ logos will appear, they will not be involved in running the resource.

He said the recognised “huge strides” ​that have been made by food and drink companies in information provision and ethical and responsible production. But he drew attention to FSA research from 2007, which indicates that two-thirds of consumers would like to know even more.

The company says some big names have already signed up, including Premier Foods, Tate & Lyle, Cadbury and Ryvita.

However the team is eager to popular it as comprehensively as possible prior to launch, and is therefore offering a special offer of one year’s free listing.

The usual rate is £60 per product range per year.

There is said to be space for every one of the food products sold in the UK.

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