With more and more food being bought take-out style, the food and grocery industry think tank IGD has stepped in with practical recommendations aimed at ensuring that consumers have a clear understanding of what’s contained in their non-packaged purchase.

An opportunity for digitally produced variable data label printing at the supermarket deli counter perhaps?

Certainly, labellers stand best placed to gain from an extension to existing IGD guidelines, aimed not so much at distinguishing between Cheddar and Cheshire but more directed towards providing information on allergens, for example.

Foods sold loose over the counter are currently exempt from the majority of food labelling legislation. This, however, is not likely to remain the case for much longer.

Joanne Denney-Finch, Chief Executive IGD pointed out: “The product label is the principal source of consumer information.

For example, IGD research shows that 61% of consumers would use the information on labels when choosing a healthy diet. These Guidelines will help address the challenge faced by the industry and ultimately help the consumer, as the amount of detail required by law continues to increase.”

Improved legibility is a further issue being addressed through text layout, type size and font, titles and headings, colour print finishes and the use of functional icons – for example, in using an illustration to clearly show cooking instructions.

Running in parallel with this in-store initiative, as the boundaries increasingly blur between food service and food retail, caterers too have an obligation to provide similar information by flagging up details such as GM or low fat.

Packaging Legibility Recommendations for Improvement is available to download free of charge from IGD.