New food labelling: will it be easier to make healthier food choices?

Health problems associated with being overweight cost the NHS more than £5 billion a year. A new food industry labelling system will be rolled out over the next 18 months in an aim to inform the public. It will consist of a combination of colour coding and nutritional information to show how much fat, salt and sugar and how many calories are in each product (based on reference intakes rather than the previous GDA) and will be shown on the front of the product.  Unfortunately it won’t cover the whole food sector, as it is still a voluntary system.

Retailers who have signed up to the new scheme include Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Morrisons, the Co-operative and Waitrose, which will display the labels on their own brand foods, as well as manufacturers Mars, Nestle, PepsiCo and Premier Foods.

How can you use the new labelling to make healthier food choices?

The new colour coding should help you decide if a food is high in sugar, salt or fat and the calories it contains in relation to the total amounts you need per day.

It is generally accepted that women need 2000 calories per day made up of 45g of protein, 230g of carbs, 70g of fat, 24g of fibre and 6gs of salt. The new labelling will help you to keep account of the total nutrients you have consumed throughout the day. 

Below is a table showing a ‘healthy’ day's menu and a regular menu (not taking into account snacks and drinks). It is easy to see the nutritional content of both and that one could lead to weight gain and, if sustained, possible health issues, especially due to the high fat and salt levels.

Food item

Calories

Sugar      

Fat       

Salt

Porridge

291

15g

9g

2.5g

Tomato soup
An apple

130
71

13g
15g

5g
0.1g

1.6g
trace

Grilled salmon
Steamed potatoes
Steamed veggies

237
135
120

0
0
9g

13g
1g
2g

1.75g
0
0

TOTAL

984
calories

52g

30.1g

5.85g

A cooked breakfast

867

16g

47g

5.8g

A club sandwich
muffin from the local supermarket  

510
498

6g
35g

25g
24g

2.35g
0.83g

Chicken korma
Pilau rice
and a naan bread

438
214
225

5g
1g
3g

28g
4g
5g

1g
0.6g
0.6g

TOTAL

2,752 calories

66g

133g

11.18g

Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Susan Hart, Nutrition Coach, cook and food writer MFHT, MFNT

As a nutrition coach I believe in and practice healthy eating. But why should you, your family or your organisation be concerned about what you eat? Because eating healthily helps you look and feel better.Did you know that two out of three adults in England are overweight? This can impair well-being, quality of life and the ability to earn. Healthy eating often means making only small changes to t… Read more

Written by Susan Hart, Nutrition Coach, cook and food writer MFHT, MFNT

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