Tougher rules urged on food health claims

The government must come up with ‘crystal clear‘ rules to cover health claims on food labels so that consumers really know where they stand, the food safety authority

VWA said today.
Food manufacturers are increasingly trying to attract customers by claiming that their products are healthy or contain a particular ingredient, the VWA said, after investigating 235 claims made on 175 different products. But claims such as ‘perfect for a responsible snack’ and ‘contributes to a balanced diet’ were not only vague and meaningless but could also mislead consumers, the VWA said.
The most common claim made by manufacturers is that their products are low-fat or fat-free. But while companies are quick to point out that their products have reduced fat levels, they are less keen to mention that they contain other harmful ingredients such as high levels of sugar, the VWA said. Last year, for example, an advert for Chuppa Chupps lollipops was criticised for focusing on the fact they are fat free. In total, 13 products made claims which were false, including crackers which claimed to be low in calories but actually contained 310 per 100 grammes. Meanwhile, research by Marketresponse found that most people do not pay much attention to claims on food anyway because they believe that they can judge for themselves what is healthy.

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