US consumers are to be given fuller information about the content of the food they eat.
Under the Nutrition Education and Labeling Act, manufacturers have until May 1994 to add “Nutrition Facts” to their product labels.
Detailed nutrition content will be compulsory on most packaged foods, including items like mayonnaise and bread. Terms like “low”, “light” and “reduced”, which are currently bandied about freely, will be standardized.
For example, “low fat” is defined as less than 3g a serving; “low calorie”, as 40 or fewer a serving. Specific health claims will be allowed where a link has been established between diet and prevention of disease, such as with calcium and osteoporosis.
In the UK, however, consumers are to be kept in ignorance. An EC food labelling directive coming into force in October 1993 requires only the most basic nutritional information to be listed (calories, protein, carbohydrate and fat).
Manufacturers will still be able to mislead with meaningless claims of “low fat” or “reduced sugar” without having to meet any minimum criteria.