The campaign Food labels in the Spotlight is starting - Shortcomings in the understanding of date labelling

22.1.2009

<div>The majority of Finns or 64 % are of the opinion that food can be eaten after the “use by” date and 14 % thought that this food can still be sold. This is not correct, however.</div>

The difference in date labelling is still unclear to many Finns. 84 per cent of those who answered said that a product can be eaten after the “best before” date, which is correct, but 63 per cent thought that the product can not be sold after the “best before” date. According to the questionnaire study carried out by Taloustutkimus for Food Safety Authority Evira, the Finns read food labelling well (81 % of those who answered).

According to the study fat content and quality, dates, the ingredients of the product and the energy content are especially well read. The origin of the food and its salt content are also noted. The main problem with the reading of the labelling is poor visibility of the markings due to small letters or weak contrasts.

The campaign “Fresh faces 2009 – Food Labels in the Spotlight” inspires and guides the consumers to read the labelling on food and the labelling on pet foods. Evira has published a brochure called 7 reasons to acquaint yourself with food labelling. The central themes of the campaign are: date markings and their differences, labelling detailing composition and nutritional content - especially salt, fat, fibre, sugar, and energy, additives and information on origin. The consumers are offered solid, practical advice in order to support their own choices.

Organised by authorities and organisations
The campaign is run by Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, The Swedish Martha Association in Finland, Rural Women’s Advisory Organisation, the Martha Organization and the Finnish Consumers' Association and Kuluttajat - Konsumenterna ry (another Consumer’s organisation). During the campaign the organisations will organise local public events in different localities and training at vocational schools and universities of applied sciences.

Pathway for complaints
The study showed that one fifth of those who had answered had made a complaint during the past year about the food they had bought. Most of the complaints concerned food that had gone off (69 % of those who had replied). 8 % of those who replied had complained about food labelling and 6 % about food that had passed the use by date.

One goal of the campaign is to encourage consumers to give feedback on inadequate labelling to the correct authority. A municipality search function has been established in order to make it easier to find the contact details for the municipal food safety authority in your own area. By selecting the name of your municipality or federation of municipalities you will get the service hours, telephone number and e-mail address of the municipal federation’s food safety contact. The municipality search function is found on the internet pages of Evira and the labelling campaign.

The authorities will be collecting feedback and initiatives over the next year on the focus on food labels and the needs for change. These will be forwarded to the relevant authorities.

More information on food labelling is found on the internet pages of the campaign.

For more information, please contact:
Senior Officer Annika Nurttila, tel. +358 20 77 24290, +358 50 557 6414
Senior Officer Tytti Itkonen, tel. +358 20 77 24296, +358 50 558 2696
Communications Manager Marja Laeslehto, tel. +358 20 77 24010, +358 50 386 8401


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