Headlines: May 28th, 2008

Local authority regulators are calling for an overhaul of food and alcohol labelling as a way to tackle rising obesity levels and to give consumers more accurate information about what they are eating and drinking. The Local Government Association is backing a series of changes and LACORS – the Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services – has launched a series of tests to check that food labelling is correct and that products contain acceptable levels of salt, sugars, fats and saturates.

The LGA wants to see clearer information in plain English on the front of packaged food, such as a traffic light’ system. It is also calling for change to the law so that alcoholic drink bottles and cans have to give information about calories in the same way as soft drink containers. For people who eat out, the LGA is suggesting that restaurants and take-aways give customers easy-to-understand guides to show how healthy food is and that there should be better promotion of healthy options.

Councillor David Rogers, the Association’s spokesperson on Public Health, said an average pint of beer contained about 250 calories but most alcoholic drinks did not have to give details of ingredients on cans and bottles. “There has been widespread publicity of how drink damages your health but most people are completely unaware of the effect it can have on their waistline,” he said.

Although there had been improvements in food labelling, he said, it still needed to be made easier for consumers to understand. “Providing people with understandable, helpful and coherent information written in plain English about the food they are eating would make a huge difference,” Councillor Rogers said.