Food and packaging manufacturers have until December 2016 to adjust to the new EU regulations. From then onwards all allergens, calorific values and six other mandatory nutritional values will need to be placed visibly on the back of the packaging in easily intelligible language and in a font size of at least 0.9 millimetres. The UK, in particular, is hoping that the specification of calories and sugar content will help to combat rising obesity figures among the population.
Extended labelling requirements are currently also being implemented in the States where the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued additional regulations. These are intended to help non-experts towards a better understanding of the terminology and to ensure improvements concerning portioning advice and packaging size details, thus preventing unhealthy eating habits. It is also hoped that a more readable design will improve the level of consumer protection.
Professionals in the industry often criticise the lack of international standards. Aspects such as the name, quantity/ volume, manufacturer’s details and indeed most of the ingredients are subject to the same standards on both sides of the Atlantic. However, there are often different regulations on how to specify those details. This is certainly a factor that causes problems in international trade. But do consumers actually read the product details on the packaging?
per 100 g
servings per container
E-number (numeric code)
Numerous surveys and studies by independent institutes around the world have shown that consumers only pay a minimum of attention to product details on packaging. There is evidence that trends towards organic food and biodegradable production are not motivating consumers to base their choices on health criteria. And this is not due to any lack of understanding of product details.
The following findings should be of interest: