The information on this page is historical. Food labels are changing and the term Guideline Daily Amount is being replaced by Reference Intake (RI). Read about the new nutrition labelling requirements.

FLABEL research into food labelling

In January 2012 an EU-funded research consortium, Food Labelling to Advance Better Education for Life (FLABEL), published the results of three years of research to establish the role of food packaging labels and identify what can be achieved when communicating nutrition information to consumers via these labels.

The results of this state-of-the-art research project show that despite good understanding and prevalence of nutrition information on food labels in Europe, a lack of motivation and attention of consumers prevents labels from impacting positively on food choices.

EUFIC research on portion information on labels

A recent pan European study conducted in collaboration with the University of Surrey surveyed 13,117 consumers and focused on how consumers respond to portion information on food and drink labels. The initial results of the research show that when portion information is present on pack in addition to per 100g/100ml information, consumers can use it to help them to use nutrition information correctly.

The researchers note that although there is an opportunity to educate consumers on what constitutes a portion and how they are set, the challenge remains to encourage consumers to look for and use the information.

FSAI research

In December 2009 the Irish Food Safety Authority published a new research study that looks into Consumer's attitudes to food labelling. Among the results, it emerges that 87% of consumers consider the nutrition table on a label to be very or fairly important, but most would prefer to see nutrient values stated per portion (e.g. per bowl), than per 100 g or 100 ml; 53% of the respondents preferred a GDA label.

Impact of front-of-pack 'traffic light' nutrition labelling on consumer food purchases in the UK

This study examined changes to consumer food purchases after the introduction of traffic-light labels with the aim of assessing the impact of the labels on the 'healthiness' of foods purchased. The study examined sales data from a major UK retailer in 2007.

Critically, there was no association between changes in product sales and the healthiness of the products. The authors recommend that further research on the influence of nutrition signposting is needed before this labelling format can be considered a promising public health intervention.

FLABEL research on Nutrition labelling

In April 2009 the EU Project FLABEL published the first part of its research. On average 85% of the products audited contained nutrition information on the back of pack and front-of-pack nutrition information was found on average on 48% of all products, reaching as high as 82% in the UK.Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) were on average on 25% of products with a peak of 63% in the UK. Nutrition claims and GDAs were the most prevalent forms of nutrition information on the front-of-pack.

EFSA scientific opinion

European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) scientific opinion on the review of labelling reference intake values for selected nutritional elements.

Following a request from the European Commission, EFSA's panel on Dietetic products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) was asked to review and provide advice on labelling reference intakes for energy, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sugars and salt as included in the food information proposal.

Their conclusions back the values currently used by the food industry.

Mirror readers survey

GDA labelling survey conducted by the Mirror newspaper group. The research carried out in December 2007 / January 2008 showed that 90% of mirror readers were aware of GDA labels and 85% found them easy to understand.

The research showed that consumers use the GDA information to understand how healthy a product is and to help them choose products that make up a balanced diet.

EUFIC research

A pan-European study by the European Food Information Council (EUFIC). The research questioned some 17,300 people in France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Sweden and the UK, both in supermarkets and at home and found that on average only 18% of Europeans (ranging from 27% in UK to 9% in France) regularly look for nutrition information on food packaging in store.

The UK-specific part of this study, conducted in 2008, was published on-line in the peer-reviewed Journal 'Appetite' in May 2010. The study found that more than 65% of UK consumers look at front of pack labels, with most consumers having a good understanding of GDAs. The research concluded that although UK consumers were exposed to basic nutrition information on food labels and understood them, they did not have the motivation to use them.

Millward Brown research

In 2008 the Food and Drink Federation commissioned a research study in order to track awareness, understanding, usage and influence of GDA labelling in the UK.

The latest research shows the number of consumers now aware of the GDA front-of-pack nutrition-labelling scheme has risen from 70% in Oct 2006 to 83% in April 2008 and the number of consumers who have already used them has risen from 49% to 63% over the same time period.

In addition, 80% of people say they find the labels easy to understand and 84% would like to see GDA labels on even more packs.

The survey results covers the period October 2006 to September 2008.

Last reviewed: 27 Feb 2014