In a survey conducted September 2016, professionals from North American food industry sectors including production, retail, wholesale, distribution, and service shared their thoughts. The purpose was to evaluate what the industry is currently struggling with and spark conversation on improving the regulatory system for both Canada and the United States.
Thought for Food Blog
Every day, millions of people put a lot of trust in the food industry. More and more of us check product labels on a regular basis to make sure what we are buying meets our individual requirements – be they for low fat foods, sugarless concoctions, organically certified foods, clean label products or anything else. And when we buy a food product, we expect it to contain what it says it does on the label.
History of food labelling
Food labelling as we know it today dates back to the 19th century. Interestingly, it was initially developed as a '...logistical aid to the enforcement of adulteration laws and the levying of duties and taxes on bread' rather than to protect consumers.
It was concerns over chemical safety during World War II that triggered the enactment of The Defence (Sale of Food) Regulations 1943 to protect consumers from misleading labels as to the nature, substance or quality of food.
Then, in 1973, the European Economic Community (EEC) membership brought the European Commission (EC) Labelling Directive 79/112/EEC into the UK, strengthening the ban on misleading presentation and claims on food products. This evolved, through various iterations, into Directive 2000/13/EC.
In 2008, melamine was added to milk and infant formula to increase its protein content. This led to the hospitalisation of around 54,000 infants, 6 deaths from kidney stones and, ultimately, a number of criminal prosecutions, resulting in 2 executions.
In 2013, horsemeat was found in burgers and ready meals sold in UK supermarkets. Although not physically harmed, consumers – who thought they were eating beef – were less than happy. The incident highlighted the vulnerability of the food supply chain and Tesco, one of the supermarkets selling the adulterated meat, underwent – €300 million drop in market value.
Almost 800 million people are suffering from malnutrition in the world today. Meanwhile, around a third of all the food produced for human consumption is wasted or lost. This food waste, which amounts to around 1.3 billion tonnes every year, occurs at all stages of the food chain, from the farm to the consumer’s home, and its value is thought to be around US$1 trillion. As the world population continues to increase, reducing the amount of food that is lost or wasted will become more essential than ever. It has been estimated that by 2050 we will require a 60% increase in global food production to feed the population.
The causes of food waste differ between countries around the world. In developing countries, losses tend to occur at the earlier stage of the supply chain and are often due to financial and structural limitations in harvest techniques, storage and transport infrastructures, processing, cooling capabilities, packaging, marketing and infrastructure, as well as climatic conditions that favour food spoilage. Social and cultural conditions can also play a role in food loss in these countries. In medium- and high-income countries, meanwhile, waste tends to occur at the more downstream end of the food chain and often relates to food quality standards and consumer behaviour.
Topics: food safety, labelling, food quality, food security, packaging, regulations and guidance, contaminants, retail and marketing, food production, environment and sustainability, food waste, consumer behaviour