Eblex sector director Nick Allen said: “We would be surprised if this affected sales on meat counters. Fresh, lean beef and lamb is an important part of a balanced diet, as advocated by the Government’s ‘Eatwell’ plate.
“Many products have had this type of labelling for some time, but any changes to guidelines which aid transparency and help consumers understand what they are buying, would have to be seen as a good thing.”
NFU director of corporate affairs Tom Hind said the NFU welcomed the provision of consistent and transparent information to consumers about the food they purchase, but said that signpost labelling was unlikely to solve the current nutritional problems of the UK population and that education and awareness were the key to a wider healthy eating programme.
He said: “We hope the Department of Health’s proposal to encourage a harmonised approach to nutritional labelling will provide consumers with a more consistent way in which the nutritional content of food products purchased from retailers is presented.
“We are pleased that the proposals at present require the inclusion of factual figures, including recommend guideline daily amounts (GDAs), and the amount of fat, saturated fat, salt, sugar, and calories within each portion. These figures aid consumers in deciding how these food products should fit into their diets to form a healthy lifestyle.
“However, we are concerned over the use of ‘traffic lighting’ on the front of packs to show the nutritional content of food products. Traffic lights are not an effective or helpful way to enable consumers to eat a balanced diet suitable for their needs. This is because the traffic light approach is over-simplistic, leads to too many anomalies, can be misinterpreted and cannot reflect reformulation of products to reduce levels of fat, sugar and salt.”
Recent research into shopping habits and influences by Eblex found that, overall, taste and price were the key drivers for the purchase of red meat, with only 37% deeming health an important factor when deciding on what meat to purchase. However, fat content was found to be an important factor, with 60% of people saying it influenced shoppers on what meat to purchase. Lamb in particular was regarded as a fatty meat. Around 55% of people said that beef was a good source of iron, although fewer consumers recognised it as a source of vitamins B and D and zinc.