The British Retail Consortium (BRC) today (5 March) hit out at plans for a new system of nutrition labelling in the UK.
The UK’s Food Standards Agency today (5 March) put forward plans for a “flexible” front-of-pack labelling scheme that would include text, traffic lights and Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs).
The FSA, after consulting with industry and consumers, formalised its proposals, with a 177-page document outlining recommendations that include keeping the hybrid system – and presenting portion size “in an easily identifiable way”.
Food labelling regulations are currently being reviewed by the EU and the BRC said it would “make no sense” to bring in plans in the UK before a decision is taken in Europe.
However, Andrew Opie, the BRC’s food director, said: “UK retailers are leading the way on food labelling and have done so for many years. Retailers have developed nutrition information that they know works best for their customers.”
However, he added: “It would be too soon for the UK to adopt any new regime of its own until a final decision about front-of-pack labelling is taken at European level. Changing and then changing again would just produce extra costs and customer confusion.
“Labelling is only one aspect of tackling obesity and other important factors, such as public education, exercise and personal responsibility, must also be given significant attention.”
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The FSA’s board is set to discuss the proposals at a meeting next week. Following the board’s decision, the FSA will then formally submit its recommendations to Health Ministers.
The Food and Drink Federation told just-food it would wait for the board discussions to take place before commenting on the proposals.
“We think that the paper sets the tone for a constructive dialogue on the next steps. Any discussion on the future regulatory framework for labelling and the change in political environment in the UK needs to be taken into account in the discussions. We’re waiting to see what happens with the board discussions,” a spokesperson said.