Date Published: 9 July 2007

Front of pack Nutrition labelling research project moves forward (FSA)

Health Food - illustrating an item from the UK Food Standards Agency.

A major study into how people use front of food pack nutrition labelling when shopping takes a step forward today.

The independent Project Management Panel (PMP), which is managing the research, has now produced a specification for the study. This is intended to ensure a robust and comprehensive piece of work, which will provide results both Government and the food industry can sign up to.

This study will be commissioned by the Food Standards Agency and has the support of the Nutrition Strategy Steering Group. It will independently assess the impact of front-of-pack nutrition labelling on shopping behaviour.

Industry and consumer groups are working with the Agency to learn together what works best for consumers. The PMP was set up to manage the project and to ensure this important piece of research is robust and independent.

Earlier this year the PMP invited expressions of interest from companies interested in taking this research forward. The panel has now finalised a shortlist of those that will be invited to tender. The PMP will assess the tender bids and select one company to carry out the research.

The independent research will look at shoppers’ understanding and use of front of pack nutrition labels. Traffic lights, monochrome Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) and traffic light colour-coded GDAs will be studied to see if they contribute to healthier choices being made and, if so, which elements of the schemes are best encouraging these.

Specific objectives of the study are:

  • To determine whether individual front of pack approaches enable consumers to correctly interpret levels of key nutrients.
  • To determine how consumers use front of pack labels in the retail environment and at home.

Chair of the PMP and Chief Government Social Researcher, Sue Duncan, said:

" Food labelling is an important issue for the food industry. The Government also believes it is vital that consumers can and do use labelling to make better informed choices about their diet. The key to delivering a solution that meets the needs of both these groups is a robust base of independent evidence. As Chair of the Panel I am confident we have in place a process which will deliver exactly that."

In addition, to inform development of the research specification, the PMP commissioned a small piece of work to provide a snapshot of consumer opinion. Several small focus groups were held to get shoppers’ impressions of both GDA and traffic light colour coded labelling and to look at how people describe using each system.

A literature review was also requested by the PMP – to look at worldwide research from the last 10 years into consumers’ use of nutritional information on products.

 

Source: Food Standards Agency (FSA), UK.

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