Tag Archives UK

Several publications have detailed the story of Get Baked, a U.K. bakery, to examine how food regulations differ in the United Kingdom and the United States. Get Baked was forced to stop selling its 12-layer chocolate cake and raspberry glazed donut cookies after a U.K. Trading Standards inspector found the desserts to be topped with sprinkles that contain a substance labeled in the United Kingdom as erythrosine, or E127, an additive only approved for use in cocktail cherries and candied cherries, according to the BBC. In the United States, the substance is labeled as FD&C Red No. 3, according to NPR, and is allowed in foods but was restricted for some uses in 1990 after studies purported to show that "very high doses of the color additive can cause cancer in laboratory animals." The BBC also noted that studies have reportedly linked the additive to hyperactivity in children and an…

The U.K. Environment Agency has announced a project "to establish standardised metrics to measure environmental performance of the food and drink sector." The agency "is aiming to make it simpler for businesses and for the public to understand the environmental performance of companies in key areas such as greenhouse gas reduction and resource efficiency," according to the announcement. The agency indicated that it intends to incentivize companies to establish "greener manufacturing processes and business operations helping to tackle climate change" and positioned the project as an aid to businesses intending to "effectively communicate their environmental performance to the public."

The U.K. Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has opened a consultation on the regulation of genetic technologies in food. "It mainly focuses on the regulation of gene edited (GE) organisms possessing genetic changes which could have been introduced by traditional breeding," the consultation states. "[W]e are using this opportunity to engage separately and start gathering views on the wider regulatory framework governing genetically modified organisms (GMOs)." "EU legislation controlling the use of GMOs was retained in the UK at the end of the transition period (after 31 December 2020). This retained legislation requires that all GE organisms are classified as GMOs irrespective of whether they could be produced by traditional breeding methods[1]. Defra’s view is that organisms produced by GE or by other genetic technologies should not be regulated as GMOs if they could have been produced by traditional breeding methods. Leaving the EU provides an opportunity…

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a series of measures aimed at limiting advertising for foods high in salt, sugar and fat. The measures include a ban on ads for such foods before 9 p.m., the implementation of calorie counts on food menus and a ban on "buy one get one" deals on some types of foods. The government will also launch "a consultation to gather views and evidence on our current ‘traffic light’ labelling system to learn more about how this is being used by consumers and industry, compared to international examples." The announcement is a reversal from Johnson's previous stance on food advertising limits that he attributed to his diagnosis and recovery from COVID-19. "I've wanted to lose weight for ages and like many people I struggle with my weight," he wrote in The Daily Express. "I go up and down, but during the whole coronavirus epidemic and…

Allergen labeling grabbed headlines in the United Kingdom in 2019 as the country faced pressure from consumers concerned that prepackaged foods lacked mandated ingredient disclosures. Following the 2016 death of a teenager who consumed a premade sandwich packaged without notification of potential exposure to sesame, the U.K. Food Standards Agency launched a public consultation that resulted in the announcement of "Natasha's Law." Under the law, which will take effect in October 2021, restaurants and other food-service entities will be required to provide a full listing of ingredients on prepackaged food. In the United States, sesame is not an allergen that requires labeling, although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested comments on the allergy's prevalence and severity in 2018. The New York Times called current U.S. regulations incomplete in January, and an August NPR article compared the two systems and found awareness of allergies in the United States lacking.…

U.K. researchers have published the findings of a comparison of calorie counts on menu items in restaurants that feature labeling of those counts and in restaurants without such labeling. Dolly R.Z. Theis & Jean Adams, "Differences in energy and nutritional content of menu items served by popular UK chain restaurants with versus without voluntary menu labelling: A cross-sectional study," PLOS One, October 16, 2019. The researchers compared offerings from "the 100 most popular UK restaurant chains by sales" and found that 42% of the restaurants offered nutritional information, and 13 of those voluntarily provided menu labeling. The researchers were reportedly able to establish that restaurants that provide calorie labeling on menus offered food with 45% less fat and 60% less salt, though they could not identify whether the labeling caused the companies to formulate products with lower fat and salt contents.

The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint against The Cornish Rum Co. against its ads marketing Dead Man's Fingers Hemp Rum. The complainant asserted that two Instagram posts and an ad in a trade magazine used language linking the hemp-infused rum to cannabis, including "Delicious mixed with coke or ginger ale—serve chilled, man. Coming to a joint near you." Another Instagram post featured an image of an outdoor ad reading "Warning: Our Hemp Rum May Cause the Munchies" along with "an image of a skull which was smoking and wearing a hat with a cannabis leaf print." The trade magazine ad included the text "Dealers Wanted." ASA dismissed the portion of the complaint arguing that the ad was intended to appeal to an audience under 18, finding that the images "were not references associated with youth culture and that overall the colours and imagery used gave each…

A U.K. modeling study has apparently found that a 20% tax on foods with high levels of sugar could reduce rates of obesity more than taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). Scheelbeek et al., "Potential impact on prevalence of obesity in the UK of a 20% price increase in high sugar snacks: modelling study," BMJ, September 4, 2019. The study model predicted the effects of a 20% price increase on "three categories of high sugar snacks: confectionery (including chocolate), [cookies], and cakes." The model reportedly showed that the price increase would cause average Body Mass Index numbers for U.K. residents to decrease by 0.53. "This change could reduce the UK prevalence of obesity by 2.7 percentage points," the researchers assert.

NPR has published a writer's comparison of his experiences eating at restaurants in the United States and the United Kingdom while living with a peanut allergy. "Restaurants in the United Kingdom are generally far more vigilant, in this regard, than restaurants in the United States," the author observes. He recounts his experience being turned away from a U.K. restaurant after answering the server's question about food allergies by receiving a card explaining that the restaurant does "not operate in a surgical environment" and therefore could not guarantee that any of its menu items did not contain peanuts. "In America, the onus typically falls more on diners themselves," the author notes. "It's not routine, as it is in England, for servers to ask their customers proactively." The writer credits coverage of a U.K. teenager's death after eating a sandwich from Pret A Manger that was not labeled as containing sesame for…

The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint that a television advertisement "perpetuated a harmful stereotype by suggesting that men were incapable of caring for children and would place them at risk as a result of their incompetence." The ad showed a father leaving a baby in a carrier on a conveyor belt as he examined his food options, including Philadelphia cream cheese products. Mondelez argued that it showed two men caring for their children and "took care to ensure the babies were not shown to be coming to any harm." ASA found the arguments persuasive, but it noted that the commercial featured the mother handing the child to the father at the beginning and the father saying "Let's not tell mum" to the child at the end. In this context, ASA found, "we considered the ad relied on the stereotype that men were unable to care for…

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