The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and his shadow, Andy Burnham, are considering introducing new laws to limit the amount of salt, sugar and saturated fat in our processed foods. About time too! But, that’s not much help if you are the shopper, and you are responsible for ensuring that your family eat healthily and you can’t find or you’re unable to read those values on the products’ eye-squinting nutritional labels.
Shop healthily – It’s easier said than done when it comes to making an informed choice on the content of Salt, Saturated Fat & Sugar in pre-packed food on our supermarket shelves. At worst, nutritional values are not there at all! Others appear not to be there, but they’re hiding under the outer label that you have to peel off to find them, or you require a magnifying glass to read the eye-squinting values. Not many of us go shopping with such equipment!
Supermarkets and manufacturers shouldn’t but they do – You still find high Salt displayed as Sodium, which looks much less, and therefore appears to healthier. Just remember that 1g of Sodium is equal to 2.5g of Salt, that Sugar can be labelled as Carbohydrate and Saturated Fat just as Fat. At Can I Eat It we help shoppers by adding nutritional values of a similar product to our App when the product’s packet or the website does not. Try the app now
The Supermarkets and how they rate for their nutritional labelling: The worst first.
At Number 1 is Waitrose.
Waitrose Nutritional Labelling: Their nutritional labelling is easy to read, but they insist on ‘sodium,’ so you have to multiply it by 2.5 to get the salt level. Why? Are they frightened that shoppers and surfers won’t buy their products if they know the salt level? I have not found a shopper yet, that knows that you have multiply the sodium level by 2.5 to get the salt value – did you? Not helpful if you are watching your salt intake.
Waitrose Nutritional Labelling on www.waitrose.com It has improved over the last twelve months, but there are still many products on www.waitrose.com that don’t have any nutritional values at all. Not helpful if you’re are an online shopper, and you are responsible for ensuring that your family eat healthily. At Can I Eat It we help the shoppers by adding nutritional values of a similar product to our App when the product’s packet or the website does not. Try the app now
Conclusion: Waitrose does not have any excuses for being bottom of the pile – they control their website and their labelling.
At Number 2 is Lidl – A no-frills supermarket:
Lidl Nutritional Labelling: Lidl’s pre-packed products that have been packaged in the UK, are as good as any on the shelves. These labels display easy to read nutritional values per 100g or 100ml. However, products that are produced in Europe have impossible-to-read multi-language labels and some have no nutritional values at all. For example, Lidl’s Ocean Sea, Norwegian Smoked Salmon, barcode: 20034658, has no nutritional values! Smoked Salmon, traditional has a very high salt content. Not helpful if you’re a Lidl shopper, and you are responsible for ensuring that your family eat healthily.
Conclusion: No excuses Lidl, your multi-language labels and no-nutrition packaging are a disgrace. Yes, Lidl has 5000 plus stores throughout Europe, but so do Aldi – and they manage to produce clear, easy to read nutritional labels on their products sold in their UK stores.
At Number 3 is Ocado www.ocado.com An independent online retailer for Ocado, Waitrose, Essential Waitrose & Branded products.
Ocado Nutritional Labelling: Most products have nutritional info on their website, but like Waitrose they choose not to display the salt. Why? Are they frightened online shoppers won’t buy that product if they know the salt level! Again not helpful if you’re www.ocado.com shopper, and you are responsible for ensuring that your family eat healthily.
Conclusion: www.ocado.com has more and better nutritional information than www.waitrose.com , but like Waitrose it chooses not to display the salt level on any of their products – both branded and own label. At Ocado – does profit come before their shoppers’ health?
At Number 4 is Tesco:
Tesco Nutritional Labelling: Most of Tesco’s products have excellent nutritional labelling. However, occasionally, nutritional values are given per slice, per biscuit or per portion – when the norm is to provide nutritional information per 100g or 100ml as well.
Conclusion: Tesco are on the right track, but adding nutritional information per 100g to all their products, would help shoppers, wanting to shop more healthily.
At Number 5 is Marks & Spencer:
Marks & Spencer Nutritional Labelling: 99% of Marks & Spencer’s nutritional labelling is excellent. However, when space is limited they do use double labelling on some of their pre-packed products!
Double Labelling? This is a growing habit by producers to use double or piled up labels on their products to cut down the space needed for all the information required these days. Marmite is a high profile example, where you need peel or piggle back one label to reveal the nutritional values underneath.
Conclusion: I’m sure M&S don’t want their shoppers wasting their time piggling back labels (and leaving the labels not in a pristine condition) to find the product’s nutritional values, so that they can be better informed. The solution to this piggling problem would be to also add nutritional information to the product’s price on the shelf-talkers (the space between the shelves).
At No 6 is Sainsbury’s: 99% of Sainsbury’s nutritional labelling is excellent. Occasionally, we have found that some products have the nutritional values listed by their percentage; for example, for example, a pack of Sainsbury’s Farmhouse butter is labelled as having 2% salt. It may seem just a pinch, but that 2% translates into 2grams per 100g which shoots it straight into the red traffic light zone. Today, on Sainsbury’s website the product is now listed as containing 1.5g of salt.
Conclusion: Sainsbury’s are on the right track, and their website has more products displaying nutritional values per 100g or 100ml than Tesco. Sainsbury’s end game should be to have all products both food & drink with nutritional values.
At No 7 Morrisons: All Morrisons own-branded products checked had easy to read labels and displayed salt, sugar and saturated fat. Morrisons have an online shopping website for wine, but not for food.
Conclusion: Their food labels are sorted. Not required, but adding the ingredients and nutritional values for their alcoholic drinks would be a real plus!
At No 8 is Aldi A no-frills supermarket:
Nutritional Labelling: Clean and easy to read nutritional labelling that leaves the shopper in no doubt how much salt, saturated fat or sugar that is in the product.
Conclusion: Aldi has shown that you can be no-frills supermarket and package their products with easy to digest nutritional values that enable their shoppers to make a more informed choice.
At No 9 is Asda: Asda’s nutritional labelling is excellent on their products and their website. Only the occasional cooking/baking/cake decoration products lack their nutritional values, but this is the norm for these products.
Conclusion: If Asda could extend their nutritional and ingredient information to cover their alcoholic drinks, they would be challenging The Co-operative Food for the top spot.
At No 10 and the Top Spot is The Co-operative Food:
Nutritional Labelling: Clean and easy to read nutritional labelling that leaves you in no doubt how much salt, saturated fat or sugar that’s in the product.
Conclusion: Supermarkets and Big Brand producers should not wait for Health Minsters & Institutes to wave the big-stick for them to change. The Co-operative has started listing the ingredients in their alcoholic drinks (this is not requirement at the moment, but it is very helpful if you are allergic to eggs, milk, fish..). Hopefully, nutritional values for drink will soon follow. All supermarkets should follow their lead.
At Can I Eat It we help the shoppers by adding nutritional values of a similar product when the product’s packet or the website does not. Try the app now