Call for consistency in food labelling

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I have noticed the lack of consistency in food labels in the UK.  It is very confusing, even to someone like me, who is educated.  Despite education, most of us do not know what to make of the numbers listed.  Is it percentage of RDA/GDA? Or is it percentage of the entire portion?  Of course, they usually report per serving, but they do not always report in terms of percentages.  And most people are not aware of their daily allowances for fats, salts, sugars, etc.  Then there’s the colour-coding system, where green is good, amber is acceptable and red is bad.  Child-friendly, but it might not give you the actual numbers.

One of the reasons for the lack of consistency is that there are so many systems.  In addition, the EU will be deciding what they want for labelling of foods across the EU.  The UK has not decided on any one system, so retailers are using whatever they please.  In addition, individual product makers can put their own system on the packaging.

The other thing I have found is that the focus is on fats, saturated fats, calories, sugars and sodium.  But you can never find any other nutritional information such as any vitamins and minerals contained in the food.  Are we somehow supposed to know that?  In the US, part of the RDA system will list all the nutritional values for the main vitamins and minerals.  Some foods may be high in certain vitamins and the makers would like to point that out.  Is it because most UK residents like to take a multivitamin, so they don’t care about the vitamin content in their foods?  I find the vitamin and mineral content useful.

Though rare, I also have found that some packaging does not even label all the ingredients of the products.  This can be dangerous for someone who might have an unusual allergy.

The government is calling for a single system to be used in reporting the nutritional values on package labelling.  It is a start to some consistency, but I think they’ll need to expand on the information presented.

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