According to the work by the DGS National Programme for the Promotion of Healthy Food (PNPAS), together with the Institute of Environmental Health of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon (ISAMB-FMUL), and whose results will be presented on Friday, the choice of healthy products increases three to five times with this type of systems.
The authors said that there should be only one consensual labelling system for citizens, experts and stakeholders that is adaptable to products sold in Portugal.
They stressed that the implementation of a single nutrition labelling system should be accompanied by a food education programme that promotes knowledge about this system and its correct use.
The report recognised the need to anticipate and implement a monitoring strategy for the impact of this measure.
This proliferation of systems may make it difficult or even confuse consumers when they make their choice, the authors of this paper added.
Scientific evidence shows that consumers find it difficult to interpret the mandatory nutrition information on food labels, the DGS said, stressing that difficulties in interpreting this information have been observed by around 40 percent of respondents.
The use of simplified nutrition labelling models, using colours or symbols, is considered one of the best options for promoting healthy food choices and, consequently, for the prevention and control of chronic diseases in the population, the DGS said.
The report, conducted with the technical support of the World Health Organisation, assessed different interpretative nutrition labelling systems, particularly as regards their ability to contribute to more informed and healthy food choices.
“Although the nutritional traffic light system, which is already partially used in Portugal, was the one with the highest percentage of participants selecting the correct option, there were no statistically significant differences between the different simplified nutrition labelling systems”, they said.
The authors of this report considered that, in their decision making, the Portuguese government should consider the simplified nutrition labelling systems already adopted in Portugal, but also the systems being adopted by other countries, particularly those with relevant trade relations with Portugal.
Throughout this report, representatives of the food industry sector showed concern about the costs and logistics inherent to the implementation of a simplified nutrition labelling system, considering the sector’s involvement in the processes of reflection and decision making on any policy in this regard to be relevant. TPN/Lusa