Healthily distributed data
Updated: Dec 20, 2019
Chris Ryder, University of Reading
Yesterday we held our Stakeholder Workshop at the University of Reading, where we brought together consumers, food manufacturers, regulators, project partners and others to tackle the issues surrounding health claims.
After a demonstration of our web app by Julia and Tess from Foodmaestro, Rodney Jones gave an overview of the fascinating results it has produced for us so far. Did you know that people aged 45-54 report the most health concerns of all our age groups, but that they also have the most health goals? Or that the Over-65s have the best knowledge of nutrients and their benefits?
It was also interesting to learn that the claims created by EFSA are often very low down on the list of those created by our users, who prefer words like healthy to normal and also like it when it's clear what a nutrient is helping your body to do through using verbs, so that
Potassium contributes to a growth in muscle mass
is much better worded as
Potassium helps your muscles to grow.
Users also found health claims more confusing when manufacturers tried to elaborate on the details of a nutrient and its benefit – it seems that a better option is to keep things simple and clear.
All the stakeholders worked together to helps us draft guidelines for policy makers, manufacturers and even consumers themselves on how to raise awareness of health claims and make the information on food packaging easier for people to trust and understand. We had some brilliant suggestions from everyone and will be putting these together into a list of recommendations soon – watch this space!
The panel discussion to finish off the day was especially insightful, allowing us to get a clear idea of where each of our stakeholder groups sat on a wide number of issues. We would like to especially thank Andrew Taylor (Advertising Standards Authority), Nicky Gillett (Allied Bakeries) and Saddaf Butt (Consumer) for their participation on this panel, and their frank and honest thoughts on these issues.
But we would of course also like to thank everyone who attended yesterday's workshop. We hope that you all enjoyed the day and were able to learn something interesting about the different stakeholder groups involved in health claims practice. We certainly learned a very great deal ourselves, and look forward to staying in touch with you all as we continue our project into next year.
That's all from us for 2019! We wish everyone a fun and restful holiday season, and will see you all in 2020, where we will tell you about the exciting developments we have planned for our web app.
Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!