Campaigners demand ban on misleading healthy eating labels

 

Health Reporter

Food firms should be banned from putting “misleading” healthy eating labels on food packed with sugar and salt, British councils have said.

Health experts have uncovered numerous examples of "low fat" options at British supermarkets which contain far more sugar than their standard equivalent.

Recent research has also suggested that buzzwords such as "wholegrain" and "antioxidants" often dupe shoppers into thinking a food is healthy when it might be high in salt and sugar.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents 400 councils in England and Wales, has now called on the EU to ban the misleading labels and to set caps on the amount of sugar, salt and fat a food product can contain if it is to be marketed with any claims of nutritional or health benefit.

Local councils were handed responsibility for public health last year and their intervention signals the increasing demand for the food industry to do more to help combat the UK’s obesity epidemic.

Yoghurts, cheeses, dressings and processed meat products are commonly marketed as low fat in the UK. By law, products labelled low fat must contain less than three per cent fat, but there are no other restrictions, enabling food companies to effectively replace fat with other unhealthy ingredients to maintain the flavour or structure of a product.

Foods labelled "reduced fat" must contain 30 per cent or less fat than the manufacturers’ standard product. 

Councillor Katie Hall, chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said that shoppers “who are trying to do the right thing” were not being given “the full picture”.

“They are therefore unwittingly buying unhealthy products,” she said. “In our view this is wholly wrong and needs to be changed.”

Food manufacturers maintain that full nutritional information is given on the packet, and many food companies and supermarkets now display "traffic light" nutritional value labels on the front of their packs.

However, research has suggested that shoppers take on average just 15 seconds to decide on a supermarket purchase. Oxford University nutrition and health expert Dr Mike Rayner said that hurried consumers were far more likely to be swayed by “big, bold” claims on the front of the pack than nutritional labelling.

“If they are to be allowed to make these claims, they should be made for a genuinely healthy product,” he said.

The LGA said it wanted the European Commission to “to introduce robust, scientifically validated nutrient profiling and provide customers with a balanced and accurate picture what they are buying” and called on the British government to put pressure on the Commission to act.

A Department of Health Spokesperson said: "People leading busy lives need clear, consistent information so it is easier to make healthier choices when they do their shopping. We know this from survey after survey.

"All companies will have to include nutrition labelling on the majority of their products by law by December 2016, and businesses responsible for nearly two thirds of all food sales in the UK have already signed up to our clear, colour coded scheme.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
Designer Oscar de la Renta takes a bow after showing his Spring 2015 collection in September, his last show before his death
fashionThe passing of the legendary designer has left a vacancy: couturier to America’s royalty, says fashion editor Alexander Fury
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    IT Project Manager

    Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    IT Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are