We will all be familiar with food labels and packaging – they are all around us! But have you ever thought about how they have progressed over the years? Whether it’s to ensure we’re aware of the nutritional values, to warn of allergens, or used as a way of marketing a product, these labels have changed for the better. Read on as we take a closer look at how food labels have evolved.
How did food labelling start?
It may not be something you’ve ever had to think about before, but food labelling began way back in the 1900s for a range of different reasons. Manufacturers first started to label their products as part of the progressive era, which saw a law being passed in America that stated it was prohibited to include misleading statements on food labels. In 1913, another amendment was passed that stated the contents of the packaging, no matter the item, must be clearly labelled. As time progressed, the customer started to be the main focal point when it came to labelling products, which we will take a closer look at below.
Food labelling to benefit consumers
The way that we labelled food in the past slowly became directed towards the interest of consumers. In 1938, all added preservatives, chemicals, or flavouring had to be added to the label so that customers knew exactly what they were buying. From then, in the USA, a consumer bill of rights was passed, stating that all customers had the right to choose, and to be informed, meaning labelling needed to be clear and concise so that product packaging was clear in stating what it contained.
Food labelling for nutritional purposes
But labelling is not just a way of keeping consumers informed. In 1993, a nutrition facts panel was introduced to the most packaged food, which meant that customers could make healthier choices around the products they were buying. Later in 2004, it became a requirement to have major food allergens clearly stated on labels – to keep customers safe, and so that those with varying diets can make the right choices with their health in mind.
Modern food labels
Many of us will be aware of food labels as we now know them. When heading to the supermarket to do our weekly shopping, we’ll be used to seeing the traffic light style labelling on most food packaging. This is a measure taken by the government with the help of manufacturers to help us make the right decisions when it comes to healthy eating. The traffic light labelling system also helps us to identify how nutritious a product is in a single glance easily without having to take too much time out of our day to research ingredients.
Labels can be made of a range of materials in various styles and designs. Depending on the product you choose, the labels may also change. For example, if you’re choosing a supermarket-brand tinned item, you will be used to seeing a thin paper or plastic label wrapped around the packaging, with a straightforward, simple design – you literally get what it says on the tin. However, if you’re buying a more luxurious product, like a high-end box of chocolates, your packaging is likely to be made from high-quality material and designed in a way that catches the eye. Embossed and foiled labels are some of the most common for high-end products and can help bring that luxurious feel to a simple product.