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Legislate on food labelling and stop misleading consumers!

BANT 2024 Election Manifesto – A call for change! – Current labelling loop-holes mean consumers are often misled about the true nutritional values and high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) content of the products they are buying. Food labels are intended to inform and make purchasing decisions easier, and yet there is more confusion than ever.

BANT is calling for legislation on food labelling to ensure consistent reporting across all ingredients for the benefit of consumers.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) definition for food labels is to ‘provide consumers with at-a-glance nutrition information, so that they can make informed food choices and can balance their diets and control their energy (calorie) intake’.

Yet a 2021 report by the FSA showed that trust and interpretability of nutritional labelling systems is low, and that ‘consumers can be highly suspicious of the labelling system and whether it can be depended on to provide accurate information about nutritional details, and this can also have a cultural dimension to it’.

So food labels are failing at the very thing they were designed for. Why? Because they cannot be trusted.

A new report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for “strict regulation to curb industry power” suggesting that ultra-processed foods (UPFs), alcohol, tobacco and fossil fuels are killing up to 2.7 million people each year across Europe. They ask those in political power to actively push for health policies that are regularly “challenged, delayed, weakened or stopped” by the commercial industry.

Food labelling is one such policy that has come under continual attack from industry.

Lack of uniformity in food labelling has paved the way for food manufacturers to continue to hoodwink consumers. Industry continues to use modified starches, such as maltodextrins, to replace fat and facilitate ‘low calorie’ claims, and non-nutritive sweeteners, to replace sugars. Neither are classified as sugars, despite behaving the same way. This misleads consumers into believing they are purchasing ‘healthier’ alternatives and makes it challenging to calculate the true glycaemic effects – the rate at which a food raises blood glucose levels – from reading the food label alone. This is especially relevant for individuals living with metabolic conditions such as obesity, Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, hypercholesterolemia, and fatty liver.

BANT calls on Political Parties to:

● Commit to mandatory food labelling with clear guidance on high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) products to close loopholes which allow manufacturers to pass non-nutritive sweeteners as healthy alternatives to sugar and modified starches (corn, wheat, or potato) as ‘low calorie’.

● Introduce one singular labelling framework to make it easier for consumers to compare products that all manufacturers must adhere to.

● Update guidelines from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition’s (SACN) in the UK to align with the World Health Organisation.

Download the full manifesto here or access our online flipbook.

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