Over recent months, my youngest daughter Izzy has developed a new habit. She reads the nutritional information on the sides of cereal boxes or milk bottles and informs me what is in a food and whether it is healthy. I often have to explain to her exactly what the wording means, but I’m very happy she is showing an interest in such things. The awkward thing is that many of the claims on food labelling can be confusing or exaggerated, but thanks to the Health Claims Unpacked project, you can influence how the food industry makes such statements.
It’s very simple to participate. All you have to do is visit the Health Claims Unpacked website and complete a handful of online tasks. It takes about 15 minutes and having done it myself, it’s actually quite good fun!
Taking part in Health Claims Unpacked
All you need to do is visit this website. You will then be asked a few simple questions about your understanding of nutrition.
Following this, you are shown a variety of statements. Your job is to identify those which are health claims and which are more general claims about the product.
After this, the fun really begins. You get to go on an imaginary shop and buy items based on the health claims made about them. You also get to write your own food health statements and design food labelling and packaging that best displays your health claim.
As I say, it’s a fun and engaging way to spend a few minutes. In fact I learned a few things about food nutrients along the way so there were additional benefits to taking part!
What are the projects’ aims?
The Health Claims Unpacked project is funded by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Food and led by Professor Rodney Jones of the University of Reading. The project’s aims are to provide guidance to food regulators, policy makers and those in the food industry so they can ensure claims made on food packaging are clear.
While many claims made on foods are based on scientific fact, they can be worded in complicated ways. If people are to make healthy choices, a good staring point is to ensure they understand what is written on food packaging.
Have your say
The project, which is also backed by the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) gives all consumers a chance to have a say in how claims are made on food packaging. The project, which gives us all a chance to contribute to scientific research, runs until the end of 2020.
The research team wants as many people as possible to visit the website and take part and I’d encourage you to do so. This will give them a better chance as to how scientific claims can be communicated.
Will tell Izzy I played my part
As I say, I have undertaken the tasks myself. Although I was told it would take 15 minutes, I think I did it in less.
I just look forward to the next time Izzy talks to me about the claims on food packaging. I’ll impress her by letting her know I took part in the Health Claims Unpacked study and that I played a role in shaping what she is reading.