Food Labelling: Civil Society Position | World Obesity Federation

Food Labelling: Civil Society Position


The PRO-NUTRISCORE initiative is asking the European Commission to impose simplified ‘Nutriscore’ labelling on food products, to guarantee that consumers are provided with quality nutritional information and to protect their health.  

The main objectives of the initiative are to:

  1. Make nutritional labelling easier to read and understand, so that the nutritional value of a food can be understood at a glance in the face of the diversity of food supply;
  2. Take action on public health issues by encouraging professionals to improve the composition of their products;
  3. Harmonise nutritional information at European level by imposing a single official labelling system, thereby putting an end to the confusion experienced by European consumers when faced by the plethora of existing logos.


Download the Nutri-Score Factsheet here 

BEUC: The European Consumer Organisation

BEUC acts as the umbrella group in Brussels for its members and their main task is to represent them at European level and defend the interests of all Europe’s consumers. BEUC investigates EU decisions and developments likely to affect consumers, with a special focus on five areas identified as priorities by their members: Financial Services, Food, Digital Rights, Consumer Rights & Enforcement and Sustainability

"Front-of-pack nutritional labelling" 

The prevalence of overweight and obesity across Europe is alarming, both among adults and children. The BEUC highlights the importance of food labels and their ability to make "the healthy option the easy option". Click here to read more. 


Which? Is a not-for-profit charitable organisation. Which? has been championing the cause for consumers since 1957, asking probing questions of businesses and manufacturers, and pursuing the answers that put you in the driving seat


"Traffic light label scheme given the green light"

Which? has been campaigning for traffic light labelling for almost a decade and we welcome the new scheme. Click here to read more. 

"Briefing: Traffic Light Nutritional labelling" 

Given the high levels of diet-related chronic diseases in the UK today - including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and diet-related cancer - clear and consistent traffic light labelling on energy, fat, saturated fat sugar and salt is a priority. Colour coded labels help consumers to compare products easily, tell at-a-glance what’s in the food they’re buying, and enables them to take greater personal responsibility for their food choices. Click here to read more

Action on Salt

Action on Salt is a group of specialists concerned with salt and its effects on health. They are successfully working to reach a consensus with the food industry and government over the harmful effects of a high salt diet and bring about a reduction in the amount of salt in processed foods as well as salt added to cooking, and the table. Action on Salt is supported by 24 expert scientific members.

"Reading labels"

About three quarters of the salt we eat is hidden in processed foods. Checking product labels when shopping is therefore a useful tool for working out how much salt you are eating. Click here to read more.

Action on Sugar 

Action on Sugar is a group of specialists concerned with sugar and its effects on health. It is successfully working to reach a consensus with the food industry and Government over the harmful effects of a high sugar diet, and bring about a reduction in the amount of sugar in processed foods.

Action on Sugar Calls for Mandatory Labelling and Reformulation of Foods Sold in Restaurants, Cafes and Diners and to Stop Hiding Nutrition Information

New product survey (the first of its kind) exposes the excessive amounts of hidden sugar and calories in waffles, pancakes, pretzels and crepes when eating out. Click here to read more. 

Consumers International

Consumers International is the membership organisation for consumer groups around the world. They believe in a world where everyone has access to safe and sustainable products and services. They bring together over 200 member organisations in more than 100 countries to empower and champion the rights of consumers everywhere. 

"Codex committee started negotiations on front-of-pack nutrition labelling"

In the week of the 13 May 2019, the Codex Alimentarius Committee on Food Labelling began formal negotiations on guiding principles for the development of front-of-pack nutrition labelling in Ottawa, Canada. Click here to read more.

"Statement of common concerns of public health and consumers groups" 

Unhealthy diets - high in sodium, saturated and trans fats, added sugars and processed and red meat, and low in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, polyunsaturated fat, and other unprocessed or minimally processed foods - are a leading cause of death and disability globally. Nutrition-related illnesses were estimated to cause 11 million deaths in 2017, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s Global Burden of Disease. Click here to read more. 

World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRFI)

They are a leading cancer prevention charity. They fund global research into the links between diet, weight, physical activity and cancer. Their work empowers people to take action to lead healthier, happier, cancer-free lives. 

"Building momentum: lessons on implementing a robust front-of-pack food label"

This is the second report in WCRFI's Building Momentum series that provides advice to policymakers on designing and implementing nutrition policies in the face of various challenges caused by lack of political will and industry interference. The focus of this second reports is front-of-pack food labelling. Click here to read more.

The Food Foundation

The Food Foundation is an independent think tank that tackles the growing challenges facing the UK’s food system in the interests of the UK public. They provide clear analyses of the problems caused by the food system and the role of policy and practice in addressing these.  They develop and articulate food policies that support and guide the UK's population to make choices that improve their health and well-being and inform and generate demand for new and better public and private sector policy and practice.

Specifically, they want to see four areas of policy and practice change:

  1. Cross-government leadership on accessible, healthy and sustainable diets
  2. Policy and practice which re-balances the food environment and choice architecture so it supports healthy eating (covering e.g. marketing, planning and licensing and public food provision)
  3. Policy and practice which incentivises and regulates the food supply chain so it supports healthy and sustainable diets (e.g. through impacts on price, quality, provenance, perishability, safety, availability etc)
  4. Evidence gaps which are a barrier to decision making are addressed 


Consumentenbond works with consumers to build fair, honest and safe markets where they can find what they are looking for and enjoy adequate rights. Consumentenbond is the trusted voice for consumers and the platform for bringing them together.

Consumer Research Food Choice Logo 2018.

"Consumentenbond prefers a logo with a traffic light because the survey shows that this is what consumers prefer" Babs van der Staak, communications officer at Consumentenbond said."But we think the governmet should do further research to see what logo is best for Dutch consumers. This could be The French or the British logo or maybe a combination of both." Click here to read more.

World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA)

In May 1967, during the 20th World Health Assembly, a group of delegates representing 32 national public health associations convened to discuss the concept of a non-governmental civil society voice for public health. The World Federation of Public Health Associations was established and incorporated that same month in Geneva with 16 core Member associations.

The WFPHA is an international, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization composed of over 115 associations member, mostly multidisciplinary national public health associations, and representing around 5 million public health professionals worldwide. It is the only worldwide professional society representing and serving the broad field of public health.

WFPHA’s mission is to promote and protect global public health. It does this throughout the world by supporting the establishment and organisational development of public health associations and societies of public health, through facilitating and supporting the exchange of information, knowledge and the transfer of skills and resources, and through promoting and undertaking advocacy for public policies, programs and practices that will result in a healthy and productive world.


"A call for action on front-of-pack nutrition labels" 

Non-communicable diseases kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 71% of all deaths globally. Unhealthy diets increase the risk of dying from an NCD. Estimations from 2016 suggest that 124 million children suffer from obesity, this number is 11 times higher than 40 years ago. National and international food-based dietary guidelines promote the consumption of fresh foods and the modification of the food environment. Click here to read more.

"A pledge on Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labels"

Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labelling, which applies to pre-packed foods and beverages, is a core component of the emerging ‘essential’ package of policy recommendations to address the growing global burden obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases.  Healthy diets, based around fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains with limited amounts of free sugars, sodium, saturated and trans fat are key in the prevention of NCDs. Click here to read more.

British Heart Federation

The British Heart Federation is an independent funder of research into heart and circulatory diseases in the UK. Their vision is a world free from the fear of heart and circulatory diseases. 

Food labelling 

When the UK Government launched their public consultation on colour coded food labels, nearly 1,000 of you took action and responded calling for colour-coded labels and consistency across all shelves. In July this year, the Government announced that they would support a voluntary single labelling scheme that includes colour coding. Click here to read more.

"Taking control of food portions and labels"

Protect your heart with this short guide to food labels. This leaflet provides practical tips on how to read food labels, giving you all the information you need to choose which foods to shop and which to drop. Click here to read more.

Diabetes UK

Diabetes UK envisions a world where diabetes can do no harm. The civil society organisation leads lthe fight against one of the UK's biggest and growing health crisis. 

"Food Upfront - campaigning for clear food labelling"

It's not easy to find out what’s in your food. Nine out of ten people say clearer food labelling would help them make healthier food choices. The Food Upfront campaign is calling on the UK government and food industry to act and make nutritional labelling clear, consistent and compulsory. Click here to read more. 

"Understanding food labels"

If you buy pre-packed foods and drinks, deciphering the information on the labels can help you make healthier choices that will help you and your family to eat well. Click here to read more. 

Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labelling: A Position Statement of the European Academy of Paediatrics and the European Childhood Obesity Group

The European Academy of Paediatrics and the European Childhood Obesity Group calls for European Union legislators to introduce a mandatory, uniform, and interpretative FOP nutrition labelling system imminently.

Read the position statement here.

Front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition labelling – European Heart Network position

In 2020, the European Health Network updated its position and recommendations on Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labelling to reflect emerging evidence and developments on the topic globally, and across Europe.

They are calling on harmonised measures for a simplified nutrient labelling scheme, considering adaptations to existing measures (Nutri-Score) involving scientific experts and stakeholders.

Read more.

Obesity Action Scotland: Our Response to the UK Government's Front of Pack Nutrition Labelling Consultation (2020)

In October 2020 the UK Government led a consultation to better understand that front of pack nutrition labels (FOPNL) continues to support consumers in choosing the healthiest food and beverages. It encouraged participants to share feedback on the traffic light label, new international examples of similar responses across the globe, including whether it should reflect guidance on sugar and fibre.

Obesity Action Scotland advocated for mandatory, consistent, and clear FOPNL. Read their response here.

European Public Health Alliance: Call to protect children from the marketing of nutritionally poor food.

The European Public Health Alliance and colleagues called for the adoption of EU-wide legislation to protect children from the marketing of nutritionally poor food.  To regulate cross-border marketing and minimise children’s likelihood of engaging in poor nutritional behaviours they recommend ending the use of marketing techniques appealing to children, particularly on packages of nutritionally poor food.

You can read the call-to-action and blueprint directive which outlines how the EU can regulate cross-border marketing. Both resources were launched at a webinar in November 2021 that is available on-demand here.

Statement by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health on the adoption of front-of-package warning labelling to tackle NCDs

The statement delivered by the UN Special Rapporteur urges states to adopt and monitor front-of-package warning labels on unhealthy foods and beverages high in salt, sugar, and salt. Not only does this comply with citizens right to health and information, but it is a key intervention to address the growing burden of NCDs across the globe.

‘States should adopt front-of-package warning labelling regulations as a key component of a comprehensive strategy to promote healthier lives, in line with the right to health framework. Moreover, the adoption of front-of-package warning labelling can be an effective steppingstone for States to pursue a set of additional measures that promote and protect the right to health, such as taxation, regulating school environments, and imposing marketing restrictions.’

Read the full statement here.

Policy Brief: Front-of-Pack Labelling – Unhealthy Changes in the Global Food System

The publication by the World Heart Federation outlines why Front-of-Pack Labelling (FOPL) is important, the different types of FOPL, key challenges in implementing such policies, including success stories from across the world. The Federation also outlines key recommendations for countries so that FOPL systems can be tailored to the needs of populations. For instance, it is recommended that pre-packaged and ultra-processed food products (UPP) should be labelled. UPP’s have become increasingly available globally and are high in sugars, sodium, saturated fats, and refined carbohydrates driving diet-related non-communicable diseases including overweight and obesity.

Read more.