Blog: Fed up with 'do-gooders'?

Catherine Sleep | 29 April 2005

Research released this week claims that around half of British adults are fed up with being told what to eat by ‘do-gooders’ on healthy eating campaigns.

According to market research company Mintel, Brits are showing signs of health education overload, and are becoming confused as to what actually constitutes healthy food. It is easy to see how this situation has arisen, with practically every health initiative stressing the importance of educating the public. Although education is undoubtedly important, there is a fine line between providing people with the information to make healthy choices and bombarding them with too much information.

Mintel’s research also revealed that 58% of British adults say that it is difficult to work out if foods are healthy from the labels or information on the pack. Clearer labels are vitally important to ensure consumers are able to identify quickly and easily those foods that contribute to a healthy diet.

This week, UK supermarket firm Tesco announced plans for a new food labelling system, designed to enable shoppers to make healthier choices through the use of ‘nutritional signposts’.

The company said it will clearly label the front of hundreds of its own label products with key nutritional information. The amount of salt, fat, saturated fat, sugar and calories in a serving of each product will be stated in grams. Labels will also state how much of the guideline daily amount this represents.

Interestingly, Tesco opted against the ‘traffic light’ system, saying customer research had shown the system to be too simplistic. For example, customers did not know how to treat ‘amber’ products and could not relate the system to daily consumption. Tesco said the system could also mislead consumers by creating ‘red foods’, such as some dairy items, that in fact contain important nutrients like calcium.

Food manufacturers will doubtless be relieved that the UK market leader is steering clear of the controversial traffic light system and opting instead for a more balanced approach.

Kate Barker

Acting Editor,

Read more here


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