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Food Information Evidence – Empowering Consumers to Make Healthy and Sustainable Choices

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The European Commission will use these findings as input for proposals to revise EU rules on information provided to consumers as part of the EU’s ‘farm to fork’ strategy and the European Plan to Fight Cancer. increase.

Labeling helps consumers make informed, healthy and sustainable food choices.

The JRC conducted four scientific studies to synthesize current evidence for front-of-pack nutrition labeling, country of origin labeling, and non-label food information, and analyze what is currently on the market for labeling alcoholic beverages. Did. .

Here are some of the findings:

Nutrition label on front of package

Front-of-pack nutrition labeling is one tool that helps prevent diet-related non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.

Under current EU regulations, providing nutritional information on the front of the package is optional. A variety of voluntary public and private front-of-package nutrition labeling schemes have been developed and are currently being used to varying degrees in Member States.

The European Commission has announced both its farm-to-table strategy and its plan to fight cancer in Europe., Proposed harmonized mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labeling for the EU.

A JRC study of front-of-pack nutrition labeling showed:

  • Consumers generally appreciate nutrition labeling on the front of packages as a quick and easy way to obtain nutritional information when making purchasing decisions.
  • Less complex labels require less attention and less time for consumers to process.
  • In general, consumers, including low-income consumers, seem to prefer simple, colorful, rating summary front labels to more complex, non-rating monochrome labels.
  • Front-of-pack nutrition labeling can guide consumers to a healthier diet.
  • Front-of-pack nutrition labeling appears to provide incentives for food companies to improve the nutritional quality of their products, such as by reducing added salt and sugar.

Want to know more about the survey results? Find the full report here: Pre-Package Nutrition Labeling Scheme: Evidence Update.

Market analysis of liquor labeling

Under the Consumer Food Information Regulation (FIC), alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content greater than 1.2% are exempt from the obligation to display an ingredient list and nutrition label on the product label. However, the business operator can provide it voluntarily.

A JRC study found that EU-27:

  • The possibility of including optional ingredient and nutritional information on labels of alcoholic beverages is being addressed in the liquor industry.
  • The beer industry stands out among the alcoholic beverages sector, with ingredient information for most beers on the market (around 90%) and less energy information (around 25-50% of beer products).
  • Cider/Perry and ‘ready to drink’ products have comparable information in the EU. About half of the products carry ingredient information and up to 40% carry energy content information.
  • Information about raw materials and energy is rarely found in spirits and rarely in wine products.
  • Label attributes that redirect consumers to off-label ingredients or nutritional information are uncommon.

Want to know more about this topic? Full report here: Provides ingredient, energy and complete nutritional information on alcoholic beverages.

Food information by means other than labels, including digital means

Scientists conducted a literature review of alternative sources of food information available on the market other than package labels. They explored how consumers use, understand and are influenced by these sources of information.

The general conclusions are:

  • Means that provide direct access to market food information, such as menu labels, shelf labels, and point-of-sale signs, are less likely to influence consumers towards healthy behavior compared to online means that require external tools. may be effective for Information (i.e. QR code or website link).
  • Food information must be directly visible on the market to be able to influence consumers when it is not on the food packaging.
  • Further research comparing food information provision through labels and digital means is needed.

Read the full report: Literature review of food information delivery methods other than package labels

country of origin indication

Scientists reviewed the literature on the impact of food origin information on purchasing decisions and consumption. They explored how and why consumers use, understand and are affected by origin information and came to the following conclusions:

  • Information about both the country of origin and the origin or region of origin has a significant impact on consumer food choices.
  • Consumers value origin information in the following ways:
    1. Clues for good quality and eco-friendly products.
    2. On average, they want to support local or national farmers and the food industry.
  • Consumers report (in surveys) that they value country-of-origin information. However, when actually shopping, they may be less focused on origin information than they would like (because of time pressure, brand appeal, etc.).

Read the full report: Consumer understanding of food packaging origin labeling and its impact on consumer product evaluation and choice: A systematic literature review.

Research and policy background

Findings will inform the development of current and future food information policies. Together with other factors, they particularly contribute to the evidence base that informs the impact assessment of the ongoing revision of Regulation EU No 1169/2011 on food information to consumers.

These findings support preparatory work on the European Commission’s upcoming proposed legal framework for sustainable food systems (FSFS) and sustainability labeling framework to inform the nutritional, climate, environmental and social aspects of food. also supports