Sandwich labelling guidelines will be published next year even if consensus cannot be reached, following years of failure to reach agreement in the food sector.
The Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Affairs (Lacors), which is producing the guidelines, believes it can no longer delay information, which it believes will help consumers make more informed choices when buying sandwiches.
Lacors has embarked on a consultation on the proposed guidelines, which closes at the end of the month. However, in view of the several years the guidelines have been in preparation, it plans to publish them as soon as it can - even without comprehensive backing from the industry.
“We’ve now moved on to a stage where around 95% of the guidelines have been agreed, but it’s the last five per cent that is a real sticking point,” said Lacors food policy officer Les Bailey. “We’ll have one last go to resolve it, but after that we’ll need a note to say industry agreed with all of it bar this bit, which can only be described as Lacors’ own guidance.”
Particularly vehement objections have come from the British Sandwich Association (BSA). Many of the group’s members would have to change the names shown on their sandwiches where ingredients lists were not available to indicate that reformed meat fillings had been used. The BSA feared this would make its members’ sandwiches appear inferior to similar sandwiches from big supermarket chains where ingredients labelling was common.
Bailey accepted that the BSA had some “understandable” objections and appreciated that members of the British Retail Consortium might also find it impossible to reach consensus across its diverse membership. However, he felt further delay in publishing the guidelines could not be justified.