Front of Pack Labelling

Policy Position

Our members are committed to continuing to provide front of pack nutrition labelling. UK food and drink manufacturers have long recognised the importance of providing consumers with clear on-pack nutrition information as a powerful tool for helping them make better-informed choices and improving their overall food literacy.

In addition to full nutrition declaration on the back of their packs, FDF members have voluntarily provided front of pack nutrition information for many years in the UK, and in many cases have rolled this out further, providing a consistent nutrition labelling approach across Europe. Our members are proud to have led the way.

Usually the front of pack nutrition label provides information on the absolute amounts of energy, fat, saturates, sugars and salt in a portion of the product, along with percentage Reference Intake information (%RI). This per portion % RI information helps the consumer put the food in the context of their overall diet.

The new European Food Information to Consumers Regulation came into force in December 2014 and allows for this information to continue to be provided on a voluntary basis. By having the principles our members already use now in European regulation. Greater consistency in how nutrition information is provided will occur. The regulation sets out new rules for food labels, including making it mandatory to provide nutrition information on pack. The front of pack nutrition information remains voluntary, but if a company chooses to provide it then certain rules must be followed. More information is available at FDFs microsite foodlabel.org.uk.

In July 2013, the UK governments announced details of a ‘hybrid’ label which includes the voluntary inclusion of red, amber and green colour coding on top of the information outlined above, on the front of the pack.

Each company has many factors to consider and weigh when considering whether to adopt the scheme – in order to make the appropriate balance for their business between the global, European and UK contexts and in the cost/ benefit equation.

Background

In 2006, UK industry responded to growing demands for clear nutrition information to be featured on the front of packs. It was a logical move to take the information already presented on the back of many food and drink products for a decade and put it on the front in an at-a-glance format, focusing on the five key nutrients of most interest to UK consumers – energy, fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt.

The new European Regulation on the provision of food information to consumers was published in November 2011. This set out new rules for food labels, including making it mandatory to provide nutrition information on pack. The front of pack nutrition information remains voluntary, but if a company chooses to provide it then certain rules must be followed.

In addition to the requirements of the Regulation, governments are allowed to introduce additional voluntary recommendations. In 2013 the UK governments consulted on front of pack approaches, and in October of that year announced they would take forward work to develop a ‘hybrid’ label, combining the front of pack label with voluntary traffic light colours. FDF took part in discussions on the development of the approach with Government and other stakeholders.

It is interesting to note that the recent pan-European FLABEL Research suggests that although consumers can understand all types of nutrition labels currently available to them, the majority are not motivated to use them and it is driving usage which will be key to the effectiveness of any nutrition labelling approach.

To help encourage consumers to use the label, FDF has developed a resource for healthcare professionals, Food and drink labelling: a tool to encourage healthier eating. This explains some of the label changes under the FIC including front of pack, and provides some tips to use with patients.


Last reviewed: 11 Jul 2017