UK Government Calls for Food Labels to Show Carbon Footprint

by | Jan 7, 2010

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QuakerOatscerealSupermarket food in the UK will be labeled to show its carbon footprint, country of origin and animal welfare standards as part of the government’s new food strategy for the next 20 years, reports the Telegraph. The voluntary  “green” food labels will show how much carbon was produced in the manufacture and transportation of food, according to the article.

Companies such as Tesco, PepsiCo and other leading brands already display a “carbon reduction label” on certain products showing the amount of carbon dioxide produced in grams in growing the food, packaging and transportation, reports the Telegraph.

Now the UK government wants other brands to consider measuring the carbon footprint of goods along with including country of origin and compliance to animal welfare standards on the labels, reports the Telegraph.

But environmental groups said in the article that the government needs legislation rather than a voluntary labeling scheme to really transform food and farming.

A government-supported body, the Carbon Trust, is currently working with the food industry, including big brands like Boots and Innocent, to help manufacturers determine and display the carbon footprint of different items.

Quaker Oats and Quaker Simple, part of PepsiCo, was the first cereal brand to carry the Carbon Trust Carbon Reduction Label, according to Carbon Trust.

The government is also asking all retailers to join the Pigmeat Labeling Code of Practice, due to be published next month, which will show where the animals were born, reared and processed, reports the Telegraph.

Critics believe carbon labeling will do little to fight climate change unless more low carbon products become available, according to the article.

Other countries including Sweden also call for labels listing the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the production of foods, which is expected to cut the nation’s emissions from food production by 20 to 50 percent.

In Japan, about 30 companies said they would voluntarily start carrying carbon footprint labels on food packaging and other products beginning in April 2009. This was followed by Australia’s announcement to join the UK in using the Carbon Trust’s Carbon Reduction Label.

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