graphic:link to home Environmental Practice at Work © 2008 Link:EP@W Ltd Web Site

Voluntary labels

Little Red Tractor



Follow C-label developments

Carbon Labellling

Label wars

EU labelling laws

Traffic Lights v GDA

Push to have single system

Label developments..

Dual Carbon and Nutrition Label

"Good for Development" Label from ODI

Sustainability Scoring
Labelling 4 Sustainabiliyty
thanks to Sustain

EFRA Committee backs CLA on Country-of-Origin

Healthier Food Mark

Other Label Issues..

FLABEL project (Food Labelling to Advance Better Education for Life)

"Look behind the label"
says UK Farmworkers

"Not on the Label" by Felicity Lawrence

Tories want "Honest Food" labelling

Environmental Audit Committee Report on Labels '09

Food Labels

Can sustainable food be promoted through food labels?

At present there is a plethora of labels, some legal requirements, some voluntary (left hand column). Labels can help both consumers at the checkout, and people within public procurement supply chains.

Legal UK requirements:

Name: The name of the product must be clear 'Blackberry Yoghurt' must contain blackberries - if it does not contain the real fruit it must be clearly labelled 'Blackberry Flavoured Yoghurt'.
Datemark: 'Use by' means the product must be used by the date shown - never buy products past 'Use by' date - you may be inviting a health risk. 'Best before' means the product is still safe to eat after that date but the quality may be impaired. Weight: Must be clearly stated
List of ingredients: These must always be listed in order of weight with the largest amount first. Brand names and product marketing often include words such as 'Cheez' 'Buttery', 'Creamy' infering the contents contain mainly cheese, include butter & cream. Check the ingredients list, the words being used often describe texture or flavour and are not ingredients.
List of nutritional information: Energy, protein, carbohydrate, fat are usually listed by portion and also per 100 gms of product
Manufacturer: Useful information if you need to contact the manufacturer for further information
Source: This area is a bit of a mine-field. Some products are unambiguous - 'Grown in Kenya' means what it says. 'Sourced in the UK' can mean the product was grown and reared in the UK, or that a supplier in the UK ordered it! - it is the act of sourcing that is UK based, not the origin of the produce.
Health Claims: Foods sold proporting to be of specific benefits to health, must be proven to do just that. Many products are marketed with claims they may be benficial.
100% Pure: "Pure" is not regulated but consumers expect this to mean has nothing else in it. We do not expect to find additives in 'Pure Orange Drink' but check the ingredients which may read 'Made from pure oranges with added colouring' may also contain added sugars and preservatives - it is the orange juice that is pure not the drink! Likewise most 'Cranberry Juice Drink' are 50% water with as little as 22% actual cranberry juice, the word 'drink' in the name is the give-away that this is not all that it may seem.

Nutirition Foundation
for more on
food label requirements

Bending the Bar Barcode

Clearly, if we want to get everything about sustainability onto a label, it could cover half the supermarket. However there is a way it could be done - by using electronic labelling. The Barcode could talk to the consumer rather than store & convey online data, covering a wide range of sustainable practices.

Its been done for T-shirts!

RFID technology could convey much more.

Background Stories explore labels and wrapping so that consumers can "feel a connection with the context and greater impact of their foods".

Sustainable Agricultural Initiative (SAI) spells out sustainable principles and practices that could inform labels in more detail.

Which UK Foods have Local Protected Status?Quick Quiz.

back to previous screen back