New labelling rules likely to confuse consumers

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Consumers call for clean labels
Consumers call for clean labels

Related tags Nutrition

The burden of the upcoming Food Information for Consumer Regulation (FIR) on food manufacturers and consumers will lead to an increased use of clean labels, according to an industry expert.

FIR, which is due to come into force December 13, is expected to further confuse consumers who are already calling for clearer labelling, said Adrian Short, director of starch specialists Ulrick and Short.

“It ​[FIR] will actually add to the burden on food manufacturers, requiring them to include even more information on their packaging,”​ he added.

2,000 consumers

A survey of 2,000 consumers was commissioned by Ulrick and Short to ascertain their view on food labelling. Three quarters (75%) of the respondents said they wanted to see clearer labelling.

Nearly half (45%) said they already avoided labels with artificial flavours and colours.

“Over 70% of survey respondents said they are much more aware of their eating habits than they used to be, indicating that they are more likely to pay attention to what is in their food,”​ Short added.

Manufacturers could take advantage of an increase in demand for clean labels by providing consumers with what they want, he said.

‘Meet demand’

“Not just for health or cost reasons, but to clean up ingredient declarations and meet the demand from consumers.”

Despite evidence following the horsemeat scandal last year that consumers wanted to know more about where their food came from, Short also claimed there was no need for mandatory origin labelling of processed meat products.

Consumers did not want nutritional information on all of their processed foods, he claimed. “Consumers overwhelmingly want simpler labels and fewer additives.”

By December 13, food businesses will have to label the origin of unprocessed meat from pigs, sheep, goats and poultry.

They will also have to highlight allergens in the list of ingredients and provide the information in a minimum size of text.

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