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Archive - MAFF


Dept of Health
Scottish Executive
The information in the archive was published by MAFF, Department of Health and the Scottish Executive before April 1st 2000 when the Food Standards Agency was established.

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Food safety and standards

Additives and labelling

Food labels must give full and accurate information on ingredients and avoid misleading claims. They must also list food additives such as preservatives, stabilisers and colouring, which are strictly controlled. Food law is harmonised within the European Union, so that healthy eating and consumer choice are combined with fair competition.



Working Party on Food Additives
Review of Current Research Projects. Papers presented to the Working Party at its meeting on 3 November 1999

We have made available on our Website a statement on aspartame and the following Foodsense Factsheets on food additives :

  • Factsheet 4 : The Main Types of Food Additive
  • Factsheet 5:The System of Control on Food Additives in the UK and Internationally
  • Factsheet 6 : The Control of Flavourings in Food
  • Factsheet 7 : The Evaluation of Food Additives

Other MAFF Additives Factsheets :

Factsheet 11 :
Food Additives Studies and Reports - Access to Information

Factsheet 12a :
Intolerance to Foods, Food Ingredients and Food Additives

Available from :
Mr Andrew Sewart,
P.O. Box 30077
80 London Road
London SE1 6XZ
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7972 1611

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Better Food Labelling initiative

This listening exercise has been launched by Food Safety Minister Baroness Hayman to hear what individual consumers would like improved in food labelling. It aims to involve consumers in the earliest stages of the consultative process which will feed into future plans for the direction of food labelling policy.

Comments are invited from consumers on all labelling issues that they are concerned about, including methods of production, nutrition advice, health claims etc.

Comments can be sent by email to a.betterlabel@jfssg.maff.gov.uk or by post to Helene Hayman, “Better Food Labelling”, MAFF, FREEPOST LON15319, LONDON SE8 5BP.

The deadline for comments is 20 March 2000.

The following questions could be used as a starting point for comments:

  • What information do you want to see on food labels? The following are some examples.
    • What’s in food (additives, genetically modified ingredients and so on)?
    • How is it made?
    • Where does it come from?
    • How much fat, calories, salt and so on does it contain?
  • Where and how do you want to see information on the label (in other words, all together in one place, always presented in the same way and so on)?
  • What information on the label is most important to you and why?
  • Is any label information unnecessary or misleading? If so, what?
  • What sort of information should be given for food that is not sold pre-packaged?
  • If the label makes a claim about the food (for example, it says it’s low fat), should this be controlled? How should these claims be controlled?

Activities planned during the next couple of months include:

  • funding independent consumer research into the views of a representative cross-section of shoppers;
  • distributing leaflets in supermarkets;
  • opening a page on the MAFF website, www.maff.gov.uk;
  • holding an open meeting on 2 March for consumers and consumer groups to debate the issues (numbers will be limited and places given on a first come basis).

In April the Food Standards Agency will take responsibility for food labelling. It will be for the Agency to take on board the views expressed from the Better Food Labelling initiative. This will form the basis for building a long-term strategy on food labelling. The Government will act on the advice of the Agency. New national rules may be brought in where this is possible. Self-regulatory initiatives and improved advice on the use of food labels could also be encouraged. Where changes to international standards and European Union rules are needed, the Agency will press for those changes to be made.

For more information see the background, further issues and current rules and regulations.

The report of the Better Food Labelling initiative's Open forum on 2 March has been published in pdf format.

Validation of Generic Health Claims

In the UK and internationally a number of initiatives are underway which aim to ensure that health claims for foods are soundly based and not misleading, thus enabling consumers to make informed choices about the foods they purchase. This briefing paper PDF fileassesses the evidence and issues surrounding the use of certain generic health claims within the context of current dietary guidelines and the most recent advice available from international public health bodies, and in particular, the UK Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy. The views expressed in the report are those of the author and should not be considered as a statement of JFSSG policy.

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This page was last updated 28 January 2000


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