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'We have a right to know what we are eating'

January 1998

A new campaign to ensure that shoppers know exactly what they are buying and eating is launched today by the Food Commission with a 10-point charter calling for better labelling and improved regulations and standards.

'There are hidden ingredients and unwanted extras in our favourite foods, but all too often we are kept in the dark,' says Sue Dibb, the Food Commission's co-director, whose new book, What the Label Doesn't Tell You, is published this month.

Writing in the Food Commission's quarterly journal, The Food Magazine, published today, she identifies the food labels which hide the truth:

  • Hidden health hazards - lax labelling laws make it hard to tell how much fat, sugar or salt may be present in processed foods.
  • Hidden additives - not all additives are listed on the label, and some foods have no ingredients list at all, including alcoholic drinks, take away foods, and cakes and buns bought unwrapped.
  • Hidden genetic engineering - there is still no compulsory labelling of GE ingredients.
  • Hidden agrochemicals - pesticide and drug residues and environmental contaminants in foods.
  • Hidden bugs - meat, poultry and eggs, and foods made with them, are high risk foods.
  • Hidden allergens - allergy sufferers continue to find it hard to identify problem ingredients.
  • Hidden animal products - why vegetarians and vegans must be eagle-eyed when shopping.
  • Hidden truth - the health claims that cannot be substantiated by the facts.
  • Hidden exploitation - the high profits made from low wages and unsafe workplaces.