Consumers: Labels are food for thought

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The Independent Online
A campaign to improve information on food labels was launched yesterday amid warnings of hidden ingredients and "unwanted extras" in the food we buy in the shops and supermarkets.

Consumers have the right to "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" on food packets, but are often being sold short, claim the Food Commission, a lobby group.

The drive comes just days after the Government published plans to give its new Food Standards Agency the power to set new standards for labels.

"There are hidden ingredients and unwanted extras in our favourite foods, but all too often we are kept in the dark," said Sue Dibb of the Food Commission. She warned consumers were not always getting the whole truth about food, with some manufacturers failing to mention if a product contained genetically modified soya or other organisms.

Rules ought to insist on "nothing but the truth" as well to prevent misleading health and nutrition claims.

The commission is calling for food regulations to cover all products. At present some - including alcoholic drinks, chocolate, take-away foods, fish and eggs - do not have to list their ingredients and additives. Some chickens and fish are fed dyes to enhance their colour.

Food should be as free of chemicals and contaminants as possible and inspections more rigorous to boost consumer confidence, say the campaigners.