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Campaign for clearer labelling

Oct 15

Written by:
15/10/2012 10:10  RssIcon

NFU urges consumers to expose misleading food labels

The National Farmers Union launched a new campaign on Friday to encourage the general public to expose misleading food labels and merchandising by retailers.

The union’s new ‘Flag It’ campaign encourages the public to take photos of poor food labelling and merchandising and upload them to Facebook. The campaign will use the pictures to ask supermarkets to review how these labels can be made clearer to consumers. Examples of poor / good labelling can be found on its Facebook page. See more at

According to NFU research 83 per cent of adults think the labelling of milk in cheese and butter should be clearer. In a one poll consumer survey, less than 6 per cent of people found cheese labels to be clear and only 5 per cent described butter labels as clear.

The research also highlighted a ‘lack of clarity’ in Defra’s voluntary principles on country of origin labelling, which it said can ‘confuse consumers’ and claimed its research has highlighted that several retailers have been failing to adhere to the code by not properly labelling the origin of some cheese and dairy products that have been imported into the UK.

NFU director of corporate affairs Tom Hind said the idea behind the campaign was to get as many retailers as possible to ensure that labelling, especially on own-brand products, is ‘crystal clear, so consumers know what they are getting’.

“While genuine improvements have been made in labelling over the past few years, there are still examples where labels on many products are not clear and can confuse consumers into thinking that they are buying British produce when they are not.

“We know that when the Red Tractor logo is on a product, consumers are confident that they are buying clearly labelled British produce, as the logo guarantees set standards and traceability back to a British farmgate".

In particular for dairy produce, milk can be supplied from Europe where animal welfare standards can be poorer and travelled many miles before actually been turned into cheese. Heather Webb from Ethical Consumer says "consumers have the right to know where the ingredients supplied for products have originated from. Companies should be named and shamed if they do provide the correct labelling on packaging".

DEFRA in 2011 conducted research into the labelling of dairy products and found

  • butter sampled was found to be labelled with either the origin of the milk or the place where it was manufactured,

  • 77 per cent of cheese showed the origin of the milk or the place it was manufactured.

  • 86 per cent of liquid milk products sampled had some form of origin labelling, with half of all milk showing the origin of the milk, while just over a third showed where it was manufactured.

  • A third of fresh cream products showed no origin statement, with only one sample in six showed where the milk had came from, with half showing where it was manufactured.

  • All retailers’ own-label liquid milk included a statement about where the milk came from, while 59 per cent of branded milk met the same standards.




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