Decision label

As consumers we want it all. Tasty food and drink that hits the senses, value for money, a good selection of high quality brands and products, clear signage in store and a quick, easy shop.
Within that, we take a lot for granted: how food and drink reaches us, how it is produced, in terms of food safety, and especially on what is placed on a label.

A fascinating discussion on labelling hosted by Westminster Food Nutrition Forum, on 1st November 2022, put this matter into perspective.

It was also remarkably timely as it is widely thought that we are only a few years away before cell-based food is being authorised in countries besides Singapore and traded across borders.

The emergence of cellular agriculture and other technologies is prompting many to ask how food and drink products should be labelled to meet consumer expectation and create food systems that provide healthy food to everyone today and in future generations without exploiting human or planetary resources.

Shoppers want a user-friendly tool to make the right decisions for the best food choices for their basket. But how many people check the labels for nutritional information? If they do, chances are it tricky to know exactly what is in food: how do you decide between a can of soup that has reduced sodium and one that’s labelled low sodium – and what’s the difference? The issue of what’s on a label is also complicated by including environmental sustainability labelling on food products.

The nutritional labelling of packed food is a much-discussed point by all of the actors involved.

The information that should appear on the package differs according to the opinions of those involved, but there are differences between continents and between EU countries.

The best way to communicate this complex information to consumers, in a form that is easy to read and understand, is still under development in many countries.

Price, taste, brand, appearance, product familiarity, and habits remain dominant reasons for food choices. Food labelling has become part of the food system infrastructure, and yet there are challenges with governing this sector. Compliance with regulations comes at a cost. Trust and transparency is paramount just as simplicity.

Food labelling has a considerable reach beyond adorning a pack and could increase public awareness of how food is produced and consumed.

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