Shoppers misled by packaging

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The Independent Online
Packaging which advertises the potential health benefits of particular foods is unhelpful to consumers and should be banned, research by the National Consumer Council claims today. The distinction between such unregulated claims and nutritional information - which is subject to statutory guidelines - is irrelevant to shoppers, the NCC says.

The NCC chairman David Hatch said: "Far from helping people choose a healthier diet, our research shows that food claims may actually get in the way of consumers' understanding of what they eat." The NCC stressed the need for a rethink of food pack claims such as "helps maintain a healthy heart" or "can actively improve your digestion".

Consumers are often confused or misled by technical jargon. And the more information crammed on to a food pack, the more likely shoppers are to switch off. Lists and tables are particularly impenetrable, says the report, Messages on Food.