Nutrition labelling publicity and education campaign launched

The Food and Drugs (Composition and Labelling) (Amendment: Requirements for Nutrition Labelling and Nutrition Claim) Regulation 2008 passed in the Legislative Council last May, will come into force on July 1, 2010, after a two-year grace period.

The new legislation aims to better assist consumers to make informed food choices, regulate misleading or deceptive labels and claims, and encourage food manufacturers to apply sound nutrition principles in the formulation of foods for the benefit of public health.

To tie in with the implementation of the nutrition labelling scheme in 2010, the Government has been actively engaging in publicity and public education on this front to facilitate the food trade to understand and comply with the new scheme as well as help consumers make good use of the information on nutrition labels.

Speaking at a press conference today (March 12), the Centre for Food Safetyfs (CFS) Consultant (Community Medicine) (Risk Assessment and Communication), Dr Ho Yuk-yin, said,gThe CFS officially launches a publicity and education campaign on nutrition labelling this month. The CFS will organise a series of publicity and public educational activities to drive home the advantages of the nutrition labelling scheme and enhance public understanding on how to read nutrition labels and make use of such information to maintain a healthy diet.h

Before mapping out the publicity and educational activities, the CFS in June and July last year conducted a survey on public knowledge, attitude and practice regarding nutrition labelling.

About 1,200 people were interviewed. More than 80% agreed that nutrition labelling was important and believed that the nutritional information would help them make healthier food choices. About half of the people had the habit of reading nutrition labels when buying prepackaged food products for the first time.

Although the public had certain knowledge of nutritional information, for instance, high intake of sodium was associated with the development of hypertension, they paid less attention to trans fat and saturated fat.

The survey findings also indicated more should be done to enable people to understand the information on nutrition labels, such as gserving sizeh and gnumber of servings per packageh so that they knew how to calculate the nutritional intake based on their own consumption.

Dr Ho said, gBased on the survey findings, the CFS has prepared a series of publicity and educational material. The newly produced TV and radio announcements in public interest eTurn and look for healthier food choicesf will be broadcast from today to encourage people to study nutrition labels and choose food lower in fat, sugars and sodium.

gApart from a thematic video, posters, booklets and souvenirs, the CFS will also organise roving exhibitions and health talks to promote the nutrition labelling scheme. And this yearfs Food Safety Day will adopt the nutrition labelling scheme as its theme to give it further publicity mileage. The CFS is also conducting a number of studies on nutrients in food to enhance public understanding of the issue.h

gThe collaboration of other stakeholders like dietitians and teachers is important in the public education programme on nutrition labelling. We will continue to organise training programmes for our education partners and provide them with various educational resources such as a teaching kit.h

Dr Ho said one of the objectives of the nutrition labelling scheme was to encourage the food trade to produce and develop food items that would benefit public health. "The CFS has taken a variety of trade facilitation measures to help the food trade understand and comply with the nutrition labelling scheme.h

gBesides distributing guidance notes on nutrition labelling and nutrition claims, setting up a telephone hotline and organising workshops for the local trade, the CFS has also arranged seminars and briefings on Hong Kongfs nutrition labelling scheme on the Mainland for the trade there with a view to facilitating food manufacturers who supply products to Hong Kong to understand and comply with the new scheme.

gA web-based nutrition label calculator is now being developed by the CFS to assist the trade in producing nutrition labels for prepackaged food.h

Members of the public and the trade can get information on nutrition labelling from the website of the CFS ( or by calling the hotline 2868 0000.

Ends/Thursday, March 12, 2009