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Food Upfront - campaigning for clear food labelling

Your support meant that clear calorie labelling was introduced in England 

The UK Government laid legislation to make calorie labelling in larger takeaways, chains and restaurants compulsory. This would not have happened without the support of thousands of you who took part in our Food Upfront campaign. 

Why we campaigned on this issue

We know it's not easy to find out what’s in your food. Nine out of ten people say clearer food labelling would help them make quick healthier food choices.

That's why our Food Upfront campaign called on the UK government and food industry to act and make nutritional labelling clear, consistent and compulsory.

In 2018 the UK government heard our calls, and launched a consultation on proposals to make calorie labelling mandatory in restaurants, cafes and takeaways.

And now, after many years of campaigning - and thanks to the attention you helped us to bring to this issue - the Government has tabled new legislation to make calorie labelling mandatory on food sold in restaurants, cafes and takeaways employing more than 250 people. 

The government have also committed to review and consider extending this requirement to smaller businesses within five years, and we will continue to work with government to push for this.

A UK-wide review of front-of-pack labelling as part of the new obesity strategy was also announced, which we responded to representing the views of our Food Upfront campaigners. This is a great opportunity for us to push the Government to go further and make front-of-pack labelling mandatory on all packaged food and drink. The consultation has now closed, and we are waiting for the Government's response.

The Welsh government have now committed to introducing calorie labelling for food eaten out of the home and promised to work with the UK government to improve front of pack nutritional labelling.

And Food Standards Scotland have also now officially recommended that the Scottish government introduce calorie labelling when people are eating out.

Will the calorie labelling legislation help people who carb-count? 

The legislation as it stands will only require businesses to provide information on calorie content. As part of our Food Upfront campaign, Diabetes UK called for better and more consistent labelling of carbohydrates in out-of-home settings, in order to support those who count carbs. 

In our response to the Government's consultation, we called for full nutritional information (including carbs) to be made available in store and online for all menu items to support this. Unfortunately, the Government have not taken this suggestion forward at this stage. 

We hope that businesses will recognise the value of nutritional information to their customers and we will continue pushing for this information to be made more widely available. We want all restaurants, cafes and takeaways to ensure that they have the carbohydrate content of their food and drinks available in store if requested or easily accessible online. 

Why does this law only focus on calories, and not nutrients like fat, sugar, salt? 

Evidence shows that calorie labelling is the most easy to use and understand for the majority of the population to make quick healthier choices. However, we agree that the calorie content of food is only one part of the picture. As part of our response to the Government's consultation, we called for full nutritional information to be made available both in store and online for all menu items.  

Taking action 

Thanks to your support, leading restaurants and the UK government have heard the demand for stronger nutritional labelling. Here is what you have been doing to help move us a step closer to clearer labelling.

1. Signing the petition

In March 2018, almost 7,000 of you signed our petition, which is absolutely amazing. With this many signatures, the message is crystal clear – it was time for the government and industry to strengthen food labelling.

2. Writing to your MP

In April 2018, we took our cause to parliament to tell MPs why clear labelling is so important. Hundreds of you wrote to your MP asking them to meet with us and more than 50 MPs joined us and took action on the day.

3. Submitting the petition

In May 2018, we took our message directly to the Prime Minister by handing in the Food Upfront petition.

4. The government publishing their Childhood Obesity Plan

A major milestone for Food Upfront.

On 24 June 2018, the Government published a second chapter of their Childhood Obesity Plan. This includes proposals for clear, consistent and compulsory calorie labelling that were consulted on over the autumn.

5. Responding to the government consultation

We’ve submitted our response to the government consultation. Thousands of you shaped our response through focus groups in Cardiff, Glasgow, London and Wolverhampton and an online survey.

6. Getting restaurants, cafes and takeaways on board

We called on some of the biggest chains in the country to adopt the Food Upfront pledge. We sent thousands of your letters to the biggest chains in the country, urging them to improve their labelling. And some of them listened. We had meetings with leading restaurant chains to discuss their food labelling.

7. The Government's Obesity Strategy

In July 2020, the Government published its Obesity Strategy, which included commitments on calorie labelling in larger restaurants, takeaways and cafe chains. They also promised to review front of pack labelling and restrictions on junk food advertising and promotions. 

This was a huge step towards what we've been calling on Government to do.

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