Food, Consumer Behaviour and Health Research Centre (FCBH) at Surrey has
conducted a number of studies on how people make use of, and understand
the labels on food products. These studies have been used by UK and EU
regulators in forming labelling policies and constructing food information
The work at Surrey and collaborative work with European colleagues has
examined a range of domains relevant to food governance for health and
impacted specifically on front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition labelling and
allergen labelling policy development.
One solution proposed to contribute to the resolution of the current UK
obesity crisis has been to provide clear, visible and easily understood
nutritional information to help consumers make informed decisions when
purchasing food. Newcastle research provided two insights: first that
consumers found it hard to interpret multiple versions of nutritional
labels, and secondly that the label with the highest overall comprehension
included traffic light colouring, Guideline Daily Amounts and the words
"low", "med" and "high" to aid decision making. This information was used
by the Department of Health in their approval of a new, consistent food
labelling in June 2013. This system has now been adopted by major
manufacturers including MARS, Nestlé UK, PepsiCo UK and Premier Foods, and
retailers including Sainsbury's, Tesco, ASDA, Morrisons, The Co-operative
Food and Waitrose.
Research on the environmental safety and toxicity of nanomaterials in fishes has had a global
impact across both government and industry contributing to:
(i) Consensus building on biological effects allowing regulatory agencies/governments to
make proper decisions on the hazard of nanomaterials to farmed fish and wildlife.
(ii) Critical evaluation of the internationally agreed process of toxicity testing to determine
whether the current legislative test methods are fit for purpose and acceptable to the
(iii) Identification of national/international research priorities and policies via work with the
OECD and the US Government.
(iv) Influencing government policy to support training and information for industry.
Food safety and quality management developments have resulted from a
combination of major food incidents, government regulations and industry
initiatives. This has led to the development of private standards that
have become quasi-regulatory on industry. The body of evidence aggregated
from the RAU's research and consultancy activities has provided a unique
global perspective on food safety regulation and management. Governments,
NGOs and industry have used this evidence to further national and global
strategies for food safety management including primary production.
Current research is now centering on two key areas: strategic management
of risks in primary production and public: private partnerships supporting
Building on a background in nutritional science, Professor Dowler's
research on social and policy aspects of food, nutrition and household
food security has created impact at local, national and international
levels. Her membership of key national expert advisory panels and
councils, both official and voluntary, has allowed the research to inform
policy-making as well as print and broadcast media debates on many issues,
notably the consequences of low wages and benefit cuts on the diet of
low-income households; the role played by food banks in relieving food
poverty and the benefits of local food networks in securing
community-level food resilience.
The University of Nottingham (UoN) has developed two novel food-allowed
additives based upon xanthan gum. The generation of these structurally
modified forms allow xanthan to be used more efficiently in food
manufacturing applications and provide nutritional and health benefits.
The invention of the new xanthans benefits the global food industry by
facilitating new product development and formulation.
This case study is concerned with the impact of our research on small and
medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the food industry in Wales.
Specifically, the preliminary impact is about the development of a
Knowledge, Innovation and Technology Exchange (KITE) programme. Set up in
2008, it was based on £3.9 million initial investment from the Welsh
Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Through sustained knowledge exchange via the KITE programme with 31 food
manufacturing businesses in Wales there have been two main types of direct
impact with benefits to end-users. First, there have been improvements to
food production and food safety management systems in many of those
businesses. Second, there has been increased economic prosperity, by March
2013 resulting in £27 million of increased sales, £540k of waste reduction
within processing, and the creation and safeguarding of 1,072 jobs.
[Throughout this Impact Case Study, references to the underpinning
research are numbered 1 to 6; sources to corroborate the impact are
numbered 7 to 16.]
Research by Jackson and the CONANX group (Consumer anxieties about food)
at Sheffield has enhanced understanding of recent changes in UK food and
farming, including the globalization of supply chains, technological
innovation and retail concentration all of which have led to increased
consumer anxieties about food safety and security. The research has
influenced commercial practice for a leading UK food retailer; enhanced
public understanding and encouraged more healthy eating (via museum
exhibitions, an educational website and changes to school curricula); and
helped shape public policy (through Jackson's work with DEFRA and the Food
The Centre for Food Policy (CFP) at City University London uses applied
research to develop `public interest' approaches to understanding the
relations between food systems and consumers. A key focus is the tension
between `food citizenship' and consumerism. Our research has long asked
how food policy-makers can address and improve citizenship interests when
faced with both `old' social divisions (inequalities, poverty, poor market
access) and `new' pressures (energy-water-biodiversity footprints,
environmental knowledge deficits, de- and re-skilling). Our impact has
been in promoting policies to reshape the conditions for good, low impact
consumption through: (a) generating high-level debate about sustainable
diets (what to eat) at population and individual levels; (b) identifying
and mapping the cultural and spatial realities that shape consumer
choices; and (c) foregrounding the challenge of health literacy. CFP
proposals have gained traction in food policy locally, regionally and
internationally (including Europe, the USA and Australia), helped by our
long and close relations with civil society organisations (including the
United Nations) and with growing impact on government and companies,
including the major supermarkets.
A 14 month research project funded by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has
informed national policy on allergens and food labelling, EU negotiations
by DEFRA on Food Information Regulation and Food Standards Agency advice
to industry. The project involved the development of a novel method for
eliciting consumer views about food labels, the details of which have been
communicated by the FSA to relevant government departments. The results of
the project have been presented to FSA, at industry events, within
academia and allergy charities, while references to the project have been
widely circulated on social media and appear on policy and industry