EUFIC publish global update on nutrition labelling

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition labelling scheme, Nutrition

More research is needed to appreciate how consumers can be helped to understand and use nutrition labels, according to a new report on nutrition labelling from the European Food Information Council (EUFIC).

The Brussels-based non-profit organisation, said that its 86 page ‘Global Update on Nutrition Labelling’ report “provides a comprehensive overview of the state of play on nutrition labelling today.”​ It said the report offers an up-to-date and comprehensive snapshot of the global labelling situation, which highlights emerging trends and gaps in knowledge.

The document also suggests ways forward, both for research, and for the practical application of nutrition labelling schemes, said EUFIC.

Dr Josephine Wills, the director general of EUFIC told FoodNavigator that the organisation has been compiling reports on nutritional labelling internally for a few years, with the new report the first to be released publically.

“EUFIC has a history of conducting scientifically based consumer research with academics, most recently focusing on nutrition information on food and drink labels,”​ said Wills.

“As a result, we have been asked to give talks about our results around the world, and therefore we have compiled this information with the help of other food information organisations globally, to keep ourselves up to date with the rapidly evolving field of nutrition information for consumer,”​ she said.

Research needed

The EUFIC report highlights the need for further consumer research, focusing particularly on whether consumers make long-term healthier food choices as a result of nutrition information on food packaging.

“Some research has shown that consumers understand and know how to use accurately various nutrition labels should they choose to do so, but little is known about whether consumers habitually make healthier purchases as a result,”​ said the report.

It added that the debate over which nutrition labelling scheme is the most effective “will certainly continue in Europe, Asia-Pacific and the United States for the foreseeable future.”

“More research would certainly be useful to inform these discussions,”​ said EUFIC.

“Evidence on the impact of the various schemes on purchasing behaviour, and therefore on their relative effectiveness in helping consumers make balanced choices, also remains limited,”​ it added.

Standardisation

Research by EUFIC and the Australian Heart Foundation has suggested that different labelling schemes can be equally effective in helping consumers identify healthy options, “yet many groups discussed in this report assert that standardised nutrition labels are imperative,”​ it said.

It noted that the variety of nutrition labelling schemes “has led to calls for a single format for Front of Pack labels based on harmonised nutrient criteria.”

In the US, the FDA plans to standardise the nutritional criteria on which Front of Pack nutrition labels are based. The report notes that the FDAs corresponding consumer research “may provide new insights.”

“The prevailing view in countries with mandatory and voluntary labelling alike is that standardised labels are preferable to a multitude of different nutrition labels. There remains broad disagreement, however, on what format is most effective at influencing consumer behaviour,”​ stated the report.

Report

The report ‘Global Update on Nutrition Labelling’ which also reviews existing regulations, and tackles issues including Front of Pack labelling is available as a downloadable PDF via the EUFIC website: Click Here.

Dr. Wills highlighted that because EUFIC are a non-profit organisation, the review is priced “only to cover our costs.

Related topics: Labelling, Policy

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