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The U.K. Food Standards Agency has opened a public consultation on labeling allergens on prepared food products. The consultation applies to foods “prepacked on the premises in anticipation of an order, before being offered for sale,” such as “fresh (uncooked) pizzas from the deli counter,” “boxed salads,” “hot foods such as rotisserie chicken or wedges,” and “foods that are pre-weighed and packed such as cheese or meats from a delicatessen counter or baked goods from an in-store bakery.” The consultation closes March 29, 2019. The New York Times also addressed food allergen labeling, asserting that regulations in the United States are incomplete. The author notes that label statements indicating the possibility of traces of allergens are unregulated, leading to inconsistent messages, and some common allergens are not noted at all, such as sesame.

The United Kingdom has launched a public consultation on a proposal to restrict some types of advertising for foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS). The consultation targets "volume-based price promotions of HFSS food and drink that encourage people to buy more than they need, for example, ‘buy one, get one free’ and free refills of sugary soft drinks" as well as ads placed at "main selling locations in stores, such as checkouts, aisle ends and store entrances." The government further seeks input on "which businesses, products and types of promotions should be included in the restrictions," "definitions for HFSS products, price promotions and locations in stores" and "how businesses can put this into practice and whether they will face any difficulties."

According to the BBC, advocacy group Action on Sugar has called for restaurants to stop serving "freakshakes," milkshakes with added "chocolates, sweets, cake, cream and sauce." The group reportedly surveyed restaurants for nutritional information on their freakshakes and found that some contained as many as 1,280 calories, or "more than half the daily recommended amount of calories for an adult and over six times the amount of sugar recommended for seven to 10-year-olds." The group called on the U.K. government to "introduce legislation to force companies to be more transparent about what is in their products."

The U.K. Food Standards Agency (FSA) has reportedly found that one-fifth of meat samples tested contained DNA not attributable to the animal source indicated on the label. FSA conducted 665 tests from 487 businesses suspected of "compliance issues," including restaurants and supermarkets, and purportedly found that some samples contained DNA from as many as four animals. The products included mincemeat, sausages, kebabs and curries. An FSA spokesperson reportedly told BBC that the results were "not representative of the wider food industry."

England's Department of Health and Social Care has opened a consultation on whether the country should ban the sale of energy drinks to children. The consultation requests comments on (i) "what products should be included in any restrictions," (ii) "what age limit a ban should apply to," (iii) "whether sales of energy drinks from vending machines should be restricted" and (iv) "whether there are any changes that would be more appropriate than a ban on sales to children or that could be applied as well as a ban." The consultation cites the effects of sugar and caffeine on children as concerns triggering the proposed ban. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would not be affected by any actions England takes pursuant to the consultation.

The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld the Obesity Health Alliance's complaints against advertisements for Kellogg Coco Pops Granola and a KFC milkshake. The organization asserted that both companies targeted ads for a product high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) to an audience under 16. The ad for Kellogg's Coco Pops Granola ran during a children's television show. Kellogg asserted that its granola is not an HFSS product, which ASA confirmed. "However, Coco Pops was a well-established brand, and Coco the Monkey, who was used to advertise all the products in the range, was also well-established as an equity brand character," ASA held. "We considered that many adults and children were likely to very strongly associate the Coco Pops brand and Coco the Monkey primarily with Coco Pops original cereal. At the time the ad was seen by the complainant Coco Pops original cereal was an HFSS product…

Nielsen has announced the results of a survey of U.K. consumers comparing opinions about sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) before and after the country's SSB tax took effect in April 2018, finding "minimal impact on consumer behaviour." The survey reportedly found that 62 percent of consumers "claim to have not changed their consumption behaviour in any way post-sugar tax, and only one fifth are checking sugar content on packages more frequently since the tax has come into effect." Further, 11 percent of consumers indicated that they would stop drinking SSBs before the tax took effect, but that number has dropped to one percent. "The number of people who said they would continue to buy sugary soft drinks also, surprisingly, grew post-tax, increasing from 31% in February to 44% in June," Nielsen's press release states.

The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a challenge to a bus poster sponsored by Viva, a vegan-advocacy group, that claimed the hormones in cow's milk have been "linked to cancer." Viva asserted that consumers interpret the words “linked to” as a phrase “commonly used to express an association between two factors when there was a potential or likely relationship but not an absolute causative relationship." The group submitted several research papers in support of the ad claim, but ASA was unconvinced by each study, citing unrelated or overly broad subject matters as well as the inclusion of self-reported data. ASA concluded that "the claim 'milk contains 35 hormones, including oestrogen … some of these are linked to cancer', as it would be understood by consumers to mean that due to the presence of hormones, drinking cow’s milk could increase a person’s risk of developing cancer, had not been substantiated and…

The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld an advocacy group's challenge to the use of the term “natural” by Pret A Manger but rejected a challenge to the company’s advertising claim that its breads are fresh-baked at each location. Ads on Pret A Manger’s website and Facebook page claimed that the chain makes “handmade natural food,” “avoiding the obscure chemicals, additives and preservatives common to so much of the ‘prepared’ and ‘fast food’ on the market.” Pret A Manger argued that the ads did not imply that it uses only natural ingredients or that its food is additive- and preservative-free; rather, the terminology was used to express the company's mission, which is partly to “avoid (as opposed to entirely eliminate) ‘obscure’ (as opposed to all)” chemicals. ASA upheld the challenge, determining that consumers were likely to interpret the claims to mean that the chain’s food was “natural” and free from…

The United Kingdom has announced plans to ban the sale of plastic straws and drink stirrers in an effort to combat plastic waste in oceans. Previous initiatives to further that goal have included a ban on microbeads in personal care products, fees for single-use plastic bags and a proposal for a deposit-return process for single-use drink containers. Plastic straws necessary for medical treatment may be exempted from the ban. "Alongside our domestic action, this week we are rallying Commonwealth countries to join us in the fight against marine plastics, with £61.4 million funding for global research and to improve waste management in developing countries," Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement.

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