The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is looking at a format for the labelling of food to indicate its nutritional value, Mr Peggy Fenner, the Parliamentary Secretary, told the Commons at question time.
This would be in addition to recent proposal by the FoodLabelNutrition Group and the Committee on the Medical Aspects of Health (Coma) for a statutory requirement to display the fat content of food.
Mr David Alton (Liverpool, Mossley Hill, L) said that if Mrs Genner did not implement the findings of research conducted by her own ministry is conjunction with the National Consumer Council that clear labelling should be provided on canned food – particularly showing added levels of sugar and salt – she would be open to the charge that the ministry was kowtowing to the manufacturers.
Mrs Fenner: We have already accepted the report of the Coma committee. We carried out a survey to assess the needs of consumers in labelling. We are considering now all the comments made and we hope to bring proposals shortly.
Mr Simon Coombs (Swindon, C): In a recent market research survey 60 per cent of those responsible for food shopping indicated they considered the health aspects of food when deciding what to buy.
Mrs Fenner said there was a great deal of interest being taken by both manufacturers and consumers in the nutritional labelling of food. It it was taken up the ministry wanted it to be in a form which would help and not confuse consumers.
Coma (she added) recommended statutory fat labelling to which we responded and these proposals will come before the House. Coma did not recommended statutory nutritional labelling.
If we introduced that we might have some difficulty within the EEC because of distortion of trade.