Expert panel presents report on front-of-pack nutrition labelling
Wednesday 6 May 2009
The independent group of experts who have led the front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition signpost evaluation project, today, 3 May 2009, published their final report.
The group, known as the Project Management Panel (PMP), is responsible for assuring the integrity and robustness of the study, the aim of which was to evaluate the impact of the various FOP nutritional signposting schemes on consumer understanding and behaviour. The research was conducted by BMRB in association with the Food, Consumer Behaviour and Health Research Centre at the University of Surrey.
The main conclusions from the research are:
- A single FOP scheme would be most helpful for shoppers, as the presence of different types of FOP labelling schemes in the marketplace causes shoppers difficulties in using them.
- Overall, the balance of evidence demonstrated that the strongest FOP label is one which combines use of the words 'high, medium, and low', traffic light colours and percentage of Guideline Daily Amount (GDA), in addition to levels of nutrients in a portion of the product.
- Shoppers who use FOP labels value them; they use them particularly if they are shopping for children, comparing different products, if they have a particular health concern (e.g. high blood pressure or diabetes), or if watching their weight.
- There is a generally high level of understanding of FOP labels, even among those who don't tend to use them, which suggests that raising awareness of a single scheme could encourage increased use of FOP labels when buying food.
Chair of the PMP, Sue Duncan, said: 'This is the most comprehensive and robust evaluation of FOP signpost labelling published in the UK and internationally to date.
'Using a scientific approach, the study has provided robust information on consumers' actual understanding and use of FOP labels, rather than what they say they understand and do.
'The final report provides valuable evidence on how consumers use FOP labels and what helps consumers to make healthier choices when buying food. It will provide a firm foundation for the FSA and other stakeholders on which to base future policy decisions on FOP labelling.'