Ayoub Al-Jawaldeh and Alexa Meyer

Published On


Page Range

pp. 125–142

3.3 Food Labelling with Focus on Front-of-Pack Labelling

Chapter 3.3 focuses on food labelling as a means to empower consumers to make healthier and more sustainable food choices. Providing information on the content of energy and macronutrients in packaged foods is customary in many countries of the world and even mandatory in over 60 countries. This kind of nutrition labelling is generally provided in the form of a table on the back of food packages. However, many consumers perceive this information as confusing and often have difficulties reading and understanding it. This has led to the development of additional nutrition labels that provide simplified information on the nutritional quality of a food in a salient form displayed on the front of the food package. Different models of these front-of-pack labels (FOPLs) have been proposed in recent years, with some giving information about certain critical nutrients like sugar, salt and saturated fatty acids, whereas others are based on a summary evaluation of single nutrients. An alternative way to transmit this information is via health logos that categorize foods that fulfil certain nutritional quality criteria. Labels using colour codes to rate foods have been shown to be particularly useful and are generally preferred by consumers. Regardless of the system chosen, it is important to align the model with existing national health and nutrition policies and guidelines, and for these be based on a scientifically sound, transparent nutrient profiling system. The development and implementation of the labelling system should involve all stakeholders such as food manufacturers and consumer associations. The interest in FOPLs is increasing and many countries have already introduced them or are currently considering this step. In the Eastern Mediterranean Region, Iran was the first country to use a traffic light labelling system that became mandatory in 2016. Traffic light labelling has also been introduced in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, initially on a voluntary basis with the intention of making labelling mandatory in the near future. Tunisia developed a health logo marking healthier foods with a green tick. In Morocco, the French Nutri-Score model performed best in tests with consumers and is currently considered for introduction. Surveys from Iran and Saudi Arabia found that while about 80% of the sampled foods carried FOP labels, the display of nutrients was often inaccurate or incomplete. Comprehensive evaluation studies of the systems are still outstanding.