Clearer food and drink labelling following EU rulingCountry of origin declarations on meat products

07 November 2012

Female checking food label EU agrees on clearer food labelling

The government is to implement European Union food and drink labelling regulations in the UK to make it easier for consumers to see what's in their food and where it comes from.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has confirmed that the UK will press ahead with implementing clearer food labelling measures which were adopted by the EU last year.

Our executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: 'Which? has been campaigning for improved labelling for many years and fought hard to ensure these new EU rules will help people make more informed choices when they buy their food.'

Helping families with food shopping

Food and farming minister David Heath said: 'The government is tightening up rules to make it easier for shoppers to make more informed decisions for themselves and their families at the tills.'

The new legislation represents progress towards labels that are clear, consistent and informative.

New food labelling rules

The changes mean food products must declare the country of origin for meat, the presence of nanoparticles and the plant origin of any oils in the product. There will also be a minimum font size for labels to ensure consumers can clearly see what it is their food. Rules around the labelling of the water content in meat products have also been tightened.

These regulations will come into effect in 2014, helping consumers to make more informed decisions when they are food shopping. 

Over recent years Which? food campaigns have led to a number of  improvements in the food market – calling for consistent unit pricing, nutritional information on the front-of-pack of foods and improved legibility.

Traffic light food labels

The European ruling does not require traffic light labelling on all food products, but  it has prompted several more supermarkets to commit to using the scheme. 

Mr Lloyd warned: 'The new law falls short of requiring traffic light nutrition labelling across the board so we want to see the government's recent agreement with retailers on this turned into action, and fast. It's now essential that manufacturers also start updating their labelling as soon as possible'

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