/ Food & Drink

Bite Back 2030: have you spotted misleading packaging?

Bite Back 2030 wants to achieve a world where all young people have the opportunity to be healthy. Our guest, Rebecca Morgan, explains more.

This is a guest post by Rebecca Morgan. All views expressed are Rebecca’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?. 

We’ve all been tempted by glossy food labels, or assured by claims of ‘no added sugar’ or ‘packed with protein’.

Packaging plays a huge part when it comes to influencing what we eat, and given that power, we believe marketing teams should be putting our health at the heart of their designs.

Labelling should exist to help us – not make it harder to know what’s healthy for us and what’s not. It should be used as a tool to prevent child obesity rates from rising, not as something that is adding to the problem.

Yet only 3 in 10 adults currently feel they are given enough information about what’s in the food they’re buying.

If we had honest, simple, and helpful labelling like the traffic light system out there on everything it would be a major step toward putting health at the top of the agenda. If food companies won’t do it voluntarily, shouldn’t it be something for the government to step up to? 

Biting Back

Youth-led movement Bite Back 2030 has been gathering examples from shoppers of deliberately misleading product claims and has recently chosen two finalists to go head to head.

Thousands have been voting via social media and the winner will be announced soon. It’s hoped it will help put pressure on companies to review their practices.

Bite Back has a bold mission: to achieve a world where all young people have the opportunity to be healthy, by working to stem the tide of unhealthy foods and improve the flow of affordable, healthy options for young people.

Britain is lagging behind

On 1 January this year, Israel announced the implementation of mandatory red warning labels on all food and drink products with high levels of salt, sugar or saturated fat.

A green label can be added to products recommended by the Health Ministry, and products that are purchased in open bins will have a sticker affixed nearby.

Canada is also planning to introduce mandatory warning labels indicating high levels (more than 15% of the daily value) of salt, sugar or saturated fat. Health Canada held a consultation on proposed labels last year. Chile introduced warning labels back in 2016.

Our ambition is to ensure that more young people are a healthy weight every year, halving childhood obesity by 2030.

We can solve this but we need to act now. Consistent, clear and simple labelling is one of the many things that can make a difference.

This was a guest post by Rebecca Morgan. All views expressed were Rebecca’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?. 

Have you spotted examples of misleading and confusing food packaging? Let us know in the comments.

Comments

Thanks for your Conversation, Rebecca.

It’s nearly 40 years since I decided to stop watching TV ads. If I do watch commercial TV – which is not often – I skip through the ads.

When shopping I generally avoid highly promoted products, particularly if what is on the label might not be truthful.

I read that one supermarket was removing cartoon characters from breakfast cereal packets, which is a good move. Maybe Kelloggs and Nestle should do the same.

John Butcher says:
20 March 2020

Scandal of the lot: ‘All-Bran’, it contains 18% sugar. (In the far east it’s 20%). It should be called ‘Bran with lots of added Sugar’.

Yes, but it does keep you going.

Stephanie Spierling says:
20 March 2020

As an avid label reader being unable to eat wheat products I am even more concious of healthier eating than ever getting older and trying to keep well. It has shocked me the content of Vegan products purporting to be healthy because they are plant based.The majority are heavily processed wheat and soya especially the “meat substitutes” and numerous chemicals presumably to give it some “taste”.Making meals from fruit and vegetables is admirable but is it healthy if it is so highly processed? Quorn is also highly processed so is it actually healthy I wonder,

Mike Martin says:
21 March 2020

Claims of N% less…sugar, fat If it was high to begin with it will still be too much And why crank up the fat or sugar when the other is reduced

Elizabeth Ince says:
23 March 2020

Aldi salted caramel All Butter cookies actually contain palm oil. The labelling is so misleading and numerous emails did not persuade them that they should change. The palm oil is in the caramel bits.

The best and safest foods are easily identified by their labels. They don’t have one!

Tomatoes, apples, grapes, lettuce … . We don’t need labels to tell us what is in them, or how much sugar and salt they contain.

If young people are taught that proper food does not always come in a packet, but maybe needs a bit of preparation before it is consumed, there would be no need to for campaigns such as this.

Sure, I eat processed foods when I need to save time and for convenience. But as it only forms a small part of my overall diet, I don’t need to worry too much about what’s in it.