Public urged to demand clear, honest food labelling

By June Shannon Policy News   |   4th Mar 2021

Consumers should be entitled to know if the food they’re buying is unhealthy or not through the use of clear and concise food labelling

To mark World Obesity Day today (Thursday 04 March), the Irish Heart Foundation as part of its ongoing campaign to help reduce childhood obesity, is asking the public to call for clear food labelling on the products they buy.

Members of the public can do this by filling out an online survey which forms part of a wider consultation by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) on food labelling. We have provided a handy guide on how to do this below.

The survey, forms part of a public consultation carried out by the FSAI on behalf of the Department of Health, which seeks feedback from members of the public and interested parties on a proposed revision of food labelling.

The Irish Heart Foundation believes that consumers should be entitled to know if the food they’re buying is unhealthy or not through the use of clear and concise food labelling. This will help them make a quick informed decision. However, shoppers are regularly subjected to confusing dietary information, misleading health claims and deceptive imagery on packaging that make it difficult to choose a healthy shopping basket.

Shoppers are regularly subjected to confusing dietary information, misleading health claims and deceptive imagery on packaging

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The ‘Food Information to Consumers – Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labelling, Nutrient Profiles, Origin Labelling and Date Marking’ consultation seeks to gather information and opinions which will inform the national position on EU food labelling reforms that will enable consumers to make more informed choices when selecting food.

The Irish Heart Foundation recently called for mandatory front of pack food labelling in Ireland as part of its proposals to Government to reduce childhood obesity by 50 per cent by 2030.

Previously released data by the Irish Heart Foundation found that 77 per cent of Irish adults supported regulations requiring colour-coded food labelling that indicates if a product is healthy or unhealthy, while 73 per cent were in favour of regulation preventing any claim of nutrition or health benefits on packaging for products high in fat, sugar and salt.

Currently more than 20 per cent of children in Ireland live with with overweight or obesity, rising to one in four in those from disadvantaged areas. It is estimated that overweight and obesity will be responsible for the deaths of 85,000 children on the island of Ireland and currently, children as young as eight are already suffering from high blood pressure.

" Consumers are entitled to know whether the food they are buying is healthy or not, and this can be achieved with clear front of pack labelling."

Helena O’Donnell, Childhood Obesity Campaign Manager, The Irish Heart Foundation

Helena O’Donnell, Childhood Obesity Campaign Manager, Irish Heart Foundation, said that clear nutritional labelling was important to help people make healthier food choices .

“We welcome the Government consultation on front of pack labelling. We hear from people that they struggle to make healthy choices for their families, despite knowing the benefits of eating well. Consumers are entitled to know whether the food they are buying is healthy or not, and this can be achieved with clear front of pack labelling.”

“The Irish Heart Foundation is reminding people on World Obesity Day that they can have their voices heard. As part of our campaign to reduce childhood obesity we are supporting and encouraging people to take action against misleading health claims on food products and call on the Government to advocate for mandatory food labelling laws at EU level.”

The government public consultation on proposed front-of-pack (FoP) nutrition labelling, nutrient profiles, origin labelling and date marking on food labels is open until the 25th of March. Read our handy guide below on how you can help.

Make your voice heard

Here are some quick tips on how to respond the Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s consultation on the introduction of food labelling in Ireland.

How to respond:

Visit the Government consultation at https://www.fsai.ie/consultations/ and click ‘online questionnaire’.

There are 13 questions, none of which are compulsory, so you can select those that apply to you.

Question 1 and 3 are critical. Choose ‘YES’ to Q1 as a harmonised system would ensure consistency and clarity across every dietary product in the EU. Choose ‘mandatory’ to Q3 as companies in Ireland currently operate under a voluntary system and this is inadequate.

The rest of the survey is optional – you can skip through to the end of the consultation simply by selecting ‘Next’ at the bottom of each page.

If you have more time:

Questions 4 – 7:  The Irish Heart Foundation advocates for simplified nutrition information on the front of food packages. The EU should adopt a fully-harmonised mandatory simplified front of pack labelling scheme. Mandatory schemes are preferable to voluntary schemes as they ensure all food and non-alcoholic drinks are labelled thereby empowering consumers to make the healthier choice.

Skip through to the end and ‘submit response.’

Thank you for your support.

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Related Topics

childhood obesity food labelling high blood pressure nutrition Obesity overweight World Obesity Day

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