Smart food labelling must emphasise good science and careful thought about consumer impact, the European Food Information Council has concluded after completing an exhaustive global survey.
“Policy decisions should fundamentally be based on science: The key question is which labelling scheme gives the best guidance from a nutritional point of view,” EUFIC said.
The Brussels-based nutrition and food safety NGO: “Nutrition labelling policy should take into account consumer use, interpretation and understanding of different nutrition labelling schemes, but ultimately it is the impact on purchasing decisions and overall diets that matters.”
EUFIC noted a global trend toward mandatory nutrition labelling regardless of whether nutrition and health claims were to be used or not.
It said the majority of front-of-pack labelling research had been conducted in Europe and North America and called for more in other regions.
“The mandatory Nutrition Facts Panel/Table is regarded as a public health tool that is intended to assist consumers in making informed and healthful food choices in the EU, the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and India.”
“Yet, like all tools, it only has an impact if it is suited to its task and if consumers actually understand and use it.”
The report noted questions being raised in the US about how usable and understandable Nutrition Facts Panels were.
“The debate over which nutrition labelling scheme is the most effective will certainly continue in Europe, Asia-Pacific and the United States for the foreseeable future. More research would be useful to inform these discussions.’
A summary of the report can be found here.