Health campaigners have renewed calls for mandatory food labelling to be included on out-of-home food products, including those bought from takeaways as well as hot food from bakers. Action on Sugar and Action on Salt have called on the government to implement the changes following news that the food industry has failed to meet sugar targets set out by the government, and have said that the Prime Minister, Theresa May, pledged to tackle health inequalities such as obesity. The groups have put together a 7-point action plan that they claim will help to achieve targets and improve the overall health of UK citizens.
It was recently announced that food suppliers have only reduce sugar levels in their foods by 2% compared to the 2015 benchmark figures. The government had called for a reduction of 5%. Action on Sugar has said that it was ridiculous that out-of-food suppliers do not have to measure or label the amount of sugar that is included in their products, and have said that this should be changed in order that consumers have a clearer understanding of exactly what they are eating.
According to the study by PHE, two thirds of food companies have failed to meet the new standards that were set out by the government in a bid to control sugar intake and help curb the problem with obesity that exists in the UK. According to government findings, 58% of men and 68% of women were found to be overweight or obese in 2015. Obesity levels had risen from 15% in 1993 to 27% in 2015. More worryingly, over 20% of children in Reception year, and 33% of children in year 6, were considered to be overweight or obese.
The government identified sugary foods as being one of the main culprits, and they highlighted poor and ineffective food labels as being a part of that problem. Guidelines for food and drink manufacturers were introduced, and the food industry was faced with calls to reduce overall sugar content in the products that they manufacture. The government’s aim was to reduce sugar levels by 5%, but the recent report shows that these targets have not yet been hit.
The government had highlighted ten categories of food that were among the worst offenders, including biscuits and cakes. The overall aim was to reduce the sugar in foods that target children by 20% by the year 2020. Of the 10 categories, only one met the proposed targets – cereals, yoghurts, and spreads. At the other end of the scale, puddings saw sugar levels actually increase by 1%.
Big Brand Failures
PHE looked at the 20 biggest brands. One third had cut sugar levels overall, more than half had unchanged sugar levels,but one in eight of the brands actually increased the amount of sugar in their products.
PHE said that it had only been a year since the initiative started, and that it had been difficult for businesses to meet the requirements within this short a space of time. They also said that they had been encouraged by the results so far but recognised that much more needed to be done if the food industry was to meet the targets set out by government.
A Call For Changes
Critics have asked why one-year targets were set, if they were not expected to be hit, and have called on Prime Minister, Theresa May, to make further changes in order to meet health targets.
One such call is to have food labels, that include sugar levels, added to out-of-the-home products. Currently, there is no requirement for food items like pies and pasties, takeaways, and other food products that are bought and eaten outside the home, to incorporate any kind of food labelling.
Action on Sugar and Action on Salt have called for a reduction in calorie intake, salt levels, and sugar levels. They have also called for a ban on marketing what are considered unhealthy products and want colour coded labelling on out-of-home products.
Diabetes UK has also called for colour coded labelling on food products, in order to make it easier for the average consumer to determine the sugar and fat levels of foods that they are eating. The charity found that around 60% of Britons would be more likely to buy food with this colour coded system. More than half said that they would be more likely to buy reduced calorie food if it was clearly marked, and their calls to help cut childhood obesity have been backed up by celebrity chefs and stars.
Improving Your Food Labels
All of these facts point to a demand for improved food labelling, and the government is being put under increased pressure to enhance the current food labelling regulations. They have already highlighted proposed post-Brexit changes that would mean that meat products must include information on whether an animal was stunned or not, prior to slaughter, and more and more groups are calling for a traffic light, colour coded system, to be implemented on good and drink packaging.
Label Line UK
Whether or not the laws are changed in the near future, the findings from Diabetes UK point to the fact that the public wants greater clarity from food packaging. If you are a food producer, you can implement more transparent food labelling now.
At Label Line UK we have a large selection of high quality label printers and coding machines. We can work with you to determine your exact requirements, and we can tailor our products, as well as repair and maintenance services, to meet your business requirements. We can help integrate a new printer into your existing system, and because we have extensive contacts in the printer industry, we can often find obsolete or discontinued parts, negating the need to have to pay for expensive replacement printers, unless it is necessary.
Call us today on 0151 546 2222 to see how we can help you provide greater transparency to your customers. We offer competitive prices and extensive industry knowledge that you can benefit from.