Existing nutritional and food labelling policies are failing simply because the public do not like being told what to do by the government.
This is the view of Professor Jack Winkler, visiting lecturer at University College London and MRC Human Nutrition Research, Cambridge.
Speaking at Food Matters Live yesterday (November 18th), the conference for the food and nutrition industry, he explained that a particular section of the population are uncomfortable with the idea of being told how to manage their own health and wellbeing by politicians. As a result, policymakers are often reluctant to get involved in nutritional policies our of fear of being seen as authoritarian.
FoodManufacture.co.uk reports he pointed out that the policies have done little so far to improve public health or combat obesity. In fact, obesity continues to be a growing epidemic and associated health conditions such as diabetes are also on the rise - causing serious health problems that are putting increasing strain on the NHS.
Obesity is linked to over a dozen different health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, stroke and many others.
In particular, Professor Winkler explained that existing front-of-pack labelling rules, and nutritional policies such as guideline daily amounts (GDA), place the emphasis on the consumer to change their behaviour and buying different products. That represents a major flaw - instead, policymakers should focus more and what food manufacturers could do to improve the quality of the food they produce.
“Both the traffic light system and the GDA system fail on what seems to be the important variable, which is we think that everyone now talks about labelling as influencing consumer behaviour,” he added.
“What we really need is for them to change companies’ behaviour, so they get a good label or a bad label.”
What’s more, the news provider reports that Professor Winkler feels the traffic light system is too simplistic. Generally companies find it impossible to move up from a red to an amber traffic light, or even an amber to a green, without a complete overhaul of the product.