School children encouraged to wise up to food labels- NI launch

safefood launches food labelling education programme for schools

20 September, 2005. safefood, the Food Safety Promotion Board, has today launched a new food labelling resource for school children in Northern Ireland.

Targeting 11-16 year old Home Economics students in Key Stages 3 and 4 of the curriculum, the new resource aims to teach young people how to read and understand labels, empowering them to make more informed choices that may improve their general health throughout their lives. safefood has developed the new programme in association with the Council for Curriculum Examinations and Assessment (CCEA)

In a recent survey*, safefoodfound that 62% of people in Northern Ireland only read labels occasionally, while 30% found the information contained on those labels either insufficient or misleading. In an effort to educate young adults in Northern Ireland in this area, the new labelling resource in schools incorporates student handouts, suggested homework activity and posters. Background information along with a web based nutrition labelling calculator will also be available on the safefood website from early October.

Commenting on the launch of the new food labelling education programme, Chief Executive of safefood, Martin Higgins says “Empowering young people to make informed decisions with regard to the food and drinks they consume is essential to help protect their health for the future”. With obesity on the rise, it is important that we implement measures now to help reverse this trend. We hope that teachers will use this resource in the classroom, thereby encouraging young people to adopt a healthier and more balanced diet.”

Principal Officer for Home Economics with the CCEA, Glynis Henderson, adds “I welcome this initiative by safefood which will help young people to develop the skills necessary to interpret the labelling of food and drinks they consume and purchase both now and in the future and will help them make informed healthy choices and decisions”

The benefits of preventing diet related diseases and in particular the rising trends in obesity through education at a young age should not be underestimated. An unhealthy diet is associated with higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers. Obesity is a major health problem in Northern Ireland  with two thirds of men and half of all women are overweight and 17% of men and 20% of women being classed as clinically obese .

This labelling resource was developed in consultation with nutrition, education and food safety experts from the Health Promotion Agency HPA, the Food Standards Agency FSANI and a number of dieticians working in Northern Ireland.


For further information please contact

Sarah Young at Citigate SMARTS on 028 90395500 / 07834 924 975 or
Leanne McCarroll at Citigate SMARTS on 028 90395500 / 07795485511 or
Fiona Gilligan, safefood on +353 1 448 0600

Editor's Notes

Components of resource

Lesson 1 – What is a food label?
The importance of food labelling. How labels have evolved. What information should be on a label. Ingredients listings, best before dates, country of origin – deciphering where this information is on a label.

Lesson 2 – Knowing your nutrients
The nutrition label. What is a nutrient? Energy, Protein, Carbohydrate and Fats. Are all fats bad? Recommended Daily Allowances. Calculating salt content. Voluntary vs. involuntary nutritional labels. Food Labelling Regulations.

Lesson 3 – Food Nutrition
Food Nutrition and Health, The Food Plate and how it is related to Dietary Guidelines, What is a portion, Using labels to make informed food choices.
Food Additives – What are they? The safety of additives. The role of e-numbers.

* This survey was carried out by Amárach Consulting, on behalf of safefood, as part of an ongoing Island of Ireland quantitative consumer tracking research programme. Research was carried out in July 2004 and is based on a representative Island of Ireland sample of 823 adults aged 15-74.