Dr David Jukes
Keeping the Customer Informed explores the issues raised when seeking to establish effective controls on the provision of food information to consumers. It is often stated that consumers have a ‘right to know’ what is in their food. Consumers, however, are interested in different things based on their culture, preferences, socio-economic standing and background. Unlike much of food regulation where risk analysis can be used to determine appropriate safety controls, the amount of information that is legally required relating to composition and quality is more a political or societal choice. In addition, there are many opportunities for products to be marketed with much more detailed information than the legally required minimum, but that information still needs to be accurate.
For the regulators, the issue is to determine what are set as minimum requirements and what to make as voluntary additions. For industry and retailers, trying to maximise sales through marketing strategies means that labels and advertisements need to give positive messages linked to perceived consumers requirements. But such messages need to be true and verifying their validity may have a cost to the business.
This module will introduce you to key laws and regulatory agreements, foremost of which include the European Union controls established by Regulation 1169/2011, including ingredients’ listing, date marking, country of origin labelling and nutrition information. Other topical issues that will be addressed include health and nutrition claims and the labelling of genetically modified foods, among others.
This module will be of particular use to anyone working in the areas of food manufacture, labelling and retail, or professionals wishing to understand more generally the regulations surrounding information provided to the customer about food products. With this knowledge, you will be able to identify the information required on your labelling and contribute meaningfully to the way that your business communicates the composition of your products to your customers.
On completion of this course participants should be able to:
The course will tackle specific topics and will consider the deeper implications of the issue being considered (see subtitles indicated below for examples of the implications which might be considered).
Overview of consumer requirements and expectations for food information including international legal requirements for the provision of food information but with a focus on the European Union Regulation 1169/2011.
Topic 1: Food Additives and E-numbers – What do consumers feel about chemicals?
Topic 2: Date marking – Does misunderstanding lead to excessive food waste?
Topic 3: Country of Origin Labelling – If it is safe, does it matter where food comes from?
Topic 4: Nutrition Labelling – Can nutrition labelling rules improve dietary outcomes?
Topic 5: Claims – A marketing gimmick or a valued consumer benefit based on sound science?
Topic 6: Genetically Modified Foods – Have GM labelling rules benefitted consumers?
Reflection and review of topics and implications for food businesses, national authority regulators and consumers.
Note that above list is indicative of the likely topics but may be subject to change.
AgriFood Training Partnership
The University of Reading
PO Box 226, Whiteknights
Reading RG6 6AP
T. +44 (0)330 333 4530