Front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition labels can inform consumers about healthier products. However, a convincing evidence-base that front-of-pack labels help to make the range of products offered healthier or that they make consumers choose healthier products more frequently is lacking. This is the conclusion of the Independent Front-of-pack Logo Committee which studied the scientific literature on a number of front-of-pack logos at the request of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS).
The dietary pattern of Dutch people could certainly be improved. On average we eat insufficient vegetables and fruit and too much salt and saturated fat. That is why Dutch food policy is focused on making the healthy choice the easy choice. This is executed among other things by encouraging producers to offer healthier products and by offering consumers clear and reliable information, such as the information provided by the Netherlands Nutrition Centre [Voedingscentrum].
The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport also asked the Independent Front-of-pack Logo Committee to advise on the value of a front-of-pack label within the framework of Dutch food policy. Although the committee did not find convincing evidence for the effects of front-of-pack labels on consumer behaviour or product innovation, a front-of-pack label can be useful when it comes to achieving the food policy goal of informing consumers about healthy food. If a front-of-pack label would be implemented, it is important to do this as part of a comprehensive approach to encourage people to adopt healthier eating habits.
One of the priorities in the Dutch EU strategy is ‘making the healthy choice the easy choise’, aiming at improving the nutrient composition of foods (reformulating and innovating).