A third of all Scottish consumers question the accuracy of food labels and more than a quarter find labels difficult to understand, according to Food Standards Agency research.

Now the FSA is giving the public the chance to voice their concerns and to be involved in the development of the Agency's policy on labelling.

The FSA is hosting an open forum on food labelling in Stirling¹ on Friday 15 June as part of its attempts to tackle labelling problems so that people can make more informed choices about the food they eat.

A recent survey of consumers by the Agency found that in Scotland:

  • 55% of people refer to food labels on a frequent basis;

  • 27% find labels difficult to understand;

  • 33% have concerns about the accuracy of food labels;

  • 68% check best before and use-by dates on labels but 63% do not know that food should be thrown away after the use-by date;

  • comprehension of what is a significant level of fat, sugar and particularly salt is variable and general understanding of ingredient labelling is poor.

The Food Standards Agency has agreed a wide-ranging Labelling Action Plan, which includes commitments such as pressing the EU for clearer rules on country of origin labelling and working with consumer groups, enforcement authorities and the food industry to look at how the Agency might promote and share best practice on the promotion of foods to children.

Pamela Reid, FSA Scotland's Head of Food Standards, Diet and Nutrition, said:

"Promoting honest and informative labelling to help consumers is one of the FSA's key priorities for the next five years and the Food Labelling Forum is an integral part of involving as many stakeholders as possible in the process.

"The Forum provides updates on the progress of the Food Labelling Action Plan but of equal importance is the opportunity it provides for the public to put forward ideas and ask questions about the labelling issues which matter to them. I hope as many people as possible will take advantage of this opportunity."

NOTES FOR NEWS EDITORS

  1. The Food Labelling Forum will be held in the Golden Lion Hotel, King Street, Stirling at 11am on Friday 15 June.

  2. Members of the public and other interested parties wishing to attend should contact Patricia Dodds or Alison Henney on (01224) 285155 or 285159. Alternatively they can e-mail alison.henney@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

  3. Media wishing to attend should contact the number below.

  4. A copy of the Food Labelling Action Plan is available at www.foodstandards.gov.uk

For further information contact Louise Bisset on 01224 285127. Out of hours contact: 07699 782183.