Call For Food Labeling To Be Clearer

Food Labelling

The U.K. government, supported by consumer groups, is pushing for food labeling to be made clearer. This is based on a desire by many consumers to know where their food has come from. Opinion polls suggest that many consumers would rather buy food that has been grown locally. Reasons for this are a mix of environmental (reducing the carbon impact of flying food); economic (to stimulate the British economy); and safety (a perception that food grown locally is less likely to be part of a food contamination scare.)

Putting aside whether any of these arguments hold up, the British government is seeking for food sold in supermarkets to be more clearly labelled. At present the law requires fresh, unprocessed goat, pork, lamb and poultry to be clearly labelled, but does not extend any further.

A survey commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, at the instruction of Liz Truss MP, has found that vegetables (51 percent) and meat (40 percent) came top of a list of products that consumers would buy more readily if a local option was available.

Truss, in a slightly pointed political statement, said:

“Our one nation government is doing more than ever to support British farmers and producers by creating the right environment for these small businesses to flourish. This means supporting better country of origin labeling to ensure shoppers can get behind our British farmers and building better broadband and transport links so it’s as easy to open and expand a business in Cornwall as it is in Camden.”


Responding to this, supermarket giant Tesco is working on software that will allow online shoppers to search for products grown or reared within 10 miles of their local area. While welcome, it should not be forgotten that Tesco was one of the leading chains implicated in the selling of horse meat labelled as ‘beef’. This ‘scam’ or ‘breakdown in the supply chain’ (whichever you prefer) was exposed in 2013.

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.