Many small food firms are using illegal labels

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Many small food and drink firms have been using illegal information on their packaging
Many small food and drink firms have been using illegal information on their packaging

Related tags: Trading standards, Nutrition

Many small food and drink manufacturers could soon be breaking the law – if they are not already – by putting misleading and, therefore, illegal information on their packs.

On December 13 the next tranche of the Food Information to Consumers Regulation will make nutrition labelling mandatory for most pre-packed foods.

It emerges that many companies are playing fast-and-loose with their on-pack nutrition labelling and nutrition claims, cutting corners rather than properly assessing the nutrient content of their products and labelling those contents correctly.

Made things worse

The focus on ‘healthy’ food has made things worse. Without the resources of the big boys, many small firms are not undertaking proper chemical analysis of their food and drink, and are making nutrition claims they can’t stand up.

Some are using cheap software – much of which isn’t up to the job for which it was intended.

Copy the labels

But, even worse, others are just popping into their local Tesco to copy the labels on products that look similar to their own and then keeping their fingers crossed they won’t be found out.

But they should beware. Trading Standards could soon be onto them. Inspectors would prefer to get firms to comply rather than prosecute them, said David Pickering, trading standards manager at Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards Service, at a recent food labelling conference. However, they do have the option of wielding a legal stick if necessary.

What’s more, although they can issue Improvement Notices to get transgressors to comply with the regulations, it is quite likely that at least one authority will want to prosecute a test case at some stage as an example to the others.

Related news

Show more