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Campaign puts health on agenda

Shoppers urged to examine food labels

food labellingShoppers are being urged to spend more time looking at food labelling to encourage them to put health issues alongside price when choosing products.

Food Standards Scotland has today launched an awareness-raising campaign backed by some of the country’s biggest supermarkets.

#Lookatthelabel aims to increase understanding of the importance of ‘use by’ dates, colour-coded nutrition labelling, storage advice and allergens information.

Fewer than one-third of adults (28%) report that they always check the nutrition content of food. The Front of Pack colour-coded labelling, which has been adopted by the majority of the UK’s major food retailers, provides nutritional information to help consumers make healthier choices.

With only one-fifth (22%) of Scots using product packaging for finding out information about food safety, and a third (32%) having experienced food poisoning, understanding the information on food labels is, according to Geoff Ogle, chief executive of Food Standards Scotland, one important way consumers can reduce the risk of food poisoning.

Mr Ogle added: “We want to highlight the potential risks to consumer health, and that is why we are launching this innovative campaign, using blindfold imagery, which will hopefully inspire consumers to take a closer look at the label.

“The #lookatthelabel campaign asks consumers to take a few extra seconds to look at food labels beyond the price, and spend a bit more time looking at what the information on labels is telling you.”

This is important from a public health perspective where we want consumers to be able to make healthier choices by swopping to products with more greens and ambers. From a food safety angle, we are encouraging consumers to pay attention to date labelling, content, storage and handling information. This is even more important for more vulnerable groups such as older people, children, pregnant women and people with allergies.

“How you’re going to store food isn’t something many consumers consider at point of purchase so we’re reminding people to look at the label when they’re at home putting their shopping away too.”

Which? Executive Director Richard Lloyd said: “People need to know what’s in the food they eat, so we welcome moves from Food Standards Scotland to promote clearer information through this campaign.

“Colour-coded labelling in particular helps consumers choose healthier options at a glance. We now want more manufacturers to follow the lead of supermarkets and commit to colour-coded labelling on their products.”

The one-month long awareness-raising drive will include press, radio, digital, poster and trolley advertising, social media activity and PR.

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