Food labelling should reflect health policy: consultant

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Current nutrition labelling gives ‘confusing messages’, claims Phil Dalton
Current nutrition labelling gives ‘confusing messages’, claims Phil Dalton

Related tags Nutrition

Food labelling legislation needs to change if public health messages about salt, sugar and calories are going to be truly understood by consumers at the retail aisle, a consultant in the field has claimed.

The labelling of food should be able to link directly to salt, sugar and calories, to take away the “confusing messages”​ that current nutrition labelling provided, said Phil Dalton, head of regulatory and legal at Sun Branding Solutions.

Addressing delegates at last December’s Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum keynote seminar on next steps for policy on high fat, sugar and salt foods, Dalton said: “Public health messages are about salt, sugar and calories. Labelling legislation links health on packaging to vitamins, minerals and other substances. This is the essence of the problem.”

An opportunity for change

Dalton, who used to work in Trading Standards, acknowledged that health labelling of food fell under EU law, and suggested Brexit might be an opportunity for change.

However, he reminded policy makers that before any change in law, there needed to be consensus over what constituted heathy food before labelling legislation could be applied.

Dalton believed traffic light labels went part of the way to addressing the problem, but suggested they also raised “serious issues”​, not least because many major food manufacturers “flatly”​ refused to use them.

Kilocalories on labels

He also criticised the use of kilocalories and kilojoules on labels as furthering consumer confusion.

“Why is labelling all about kilojoules and kilocalories, when consumers only talk about calories? It doesn’t make any sense. Research confirms that nobody uses or understands the terms.”

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