The Department of Health (DoH) has published the responses from UK food manufacturers in a joint consultation on front-of-pack nutrition labelling.

The document, which reveals details of a consultation held from 14 May to 6 August 2012, highlights the views of health ministers from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, in addition to the position of food manufacturers and the government.

In total, 16 questions were asked as part of the consultation to determine how best to achieve a more consistent labelling format.

The responses highlighted a strong support for greater consistency in front-of-pack nutritional labelling, with the food industry and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) expressing a willingness to work towards this aim.

A preferred format for the labelling, voiced amongst the majority of respondents, was a combination of percentage Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs), traffic-light style colour-coding and text detailing high, medium and low levels of salt, sugar, fat, saturated fat and energy value based on calories.

The responses also highlighted a need for basic information to be provided on a per portion basis to help reduce the need for consumers to calculate their actual intakes, as well as providing additional information in the full nutritional declaration on the back of food packaging, based on a per 100g or 100ml basis. There was also an emphasis on the need for colour-coding energy consumption.

Food manufacturers stressed there were issues with harmonising the position and look of front-of-pack nutritional labelling for a more unified look across the board, citing “technical issues and branding of different ranges” as reasons why this might be difficult to achieve in practice. Solutions suggested included mandatory font sizes and increased information requirements.

In the document, the DoH responded to the answers and its intentions moving forwards, including giving businesses the opportunity to decide which products will carry front-of-pack labelling and where to place it, but encouraging widespread use on multi-ingredient food products where consumers could find it hard to judge nutrient content.

Other actions included the consideration for further guidance on whether nutritional information should be provided either “as sold” or “as consumed”, as well as taking no further action on introducing health logos across foods identifying it as “best in category”.

To view the document in full, click here.