Co-op plans label crusade

The Co-op is stepping up its ethical marketing crusade with a campaign for a government crackdown on misleading food labels.

The Co-op is stepping up its ethical marketing crusade with a

campaign for a government crackdown on misleading food labels.

The consumer-owned retailer claims that nine out of ten people are

deceived by food companies’ ’labelling tricks’, including ambiguous

low-fat claims, overly glossy pictures and the use of meaningless

adjectives such as ’wholesome’ and ’traditional’.

It has drawn up an industry code of practice, which it hopes will be

adopted and enforced by the government and UK consumer groups, such as

the British Retail Consortium, and is applying the code to its 3000

own-brand products.

The Co-op initiative, which follows its ’Lie of the Label’ report

compiled during the summer by Taylor Nelson AGB and NOP, is backed by

the Consumers’ Association, which this week launched its own policy

paper to guide the Food Standards Agency.

Two of the main recommendations of the Co-op report are: a commitment by

manufacturers and retailers not to design own-label packaging which

deliberately mimics well-known brands, and the labelling of meat and

fish products with all varieties of meat and fish included.

The report also calls for a ban on misleading ’fat-free’ and nutritional

claims; the inclusion of percentage contents on ingredients lists and

the use of representative samples of food for photographs.

The Co-op ethical retailing initiatives began ten years ago, with its

lobbying to introduce nutrient labelling. Since then it has taken the

lead on labelling products with medical and environmental information,

included similar data in ’right to know’ leaflets, and labelled alcohol

brands with health warnings.


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