Brexit presents opportunity for better UK labelling

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

BRexit could provide the opportunity to create clearer nutrition labels for food
BRexit could provide the opportunity to create clearer nutrition labels for food
Leaving the EU could present the UK the opportunity to set its own regulations for labelling that would better help fight obesity, an expert in food legislation has claimed.

Phil Dalton, head of regulatory at Sun Branding Solutions, said Brexit would provide regulators the opportunity to address the difficulties people, in general, have in using the information provided to make more effective food choices.

Speaking at Food Matters Live this week, Dalton said: “Rest assured, things are going to change if there is the ability to make them change.

“If your hands are tied behind your back by the EU, it’s almost impossible to make significant changes – there are just too many stakeholders with too many different agendas.”

Adopt existing rules

However, this will not happen overnight and, on the day the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, the Government is likely to adopt the existing rules that the EU has on nutrition labelling.

“There probably aren’t going to be any immediate changes,”​ continued Dalton. “We’re probably looking at a few years before we get to a point where we can focus on what we want to do, but it does give us an opportunity to do research.

“But hopefully, in those couple of years, we can start to look at how to make that information more accessible and usable. It really is an opportunity to do something specific in the UK.”

Research into how consumers perceive and use nutrition information would allow manufacturers to create labels that were better suited to influencing consumer choice – particularly positive consumer choice.

‘Knowledge is poor’

“Our knowledge of how consumers use nutrition information is poor and, before we commit to any changes, we need to have a better understanding of what consumers need,”​ said Dalton.

He also suggested colour-coding calories on packaging, as they were the main cause of obesity when too many of them are consumed. 

“If it’s a high-calorie product, then it should be flagged up more prominently than it is at the moment,”​ noted Dalton.

“Labelling also insists on talking about kilocalories and kilojoules. The average consumer talks about calories, so why do we have to put kilocalories on pack and confuse people?”

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