Food products in supermarkets within the UK could soon have labels that tell you the products environmental impact.
The University of Oxford has studied the environmental impact of 57,000 food products and has hopes that these new eco-labels will help retailers, consumers, manufacturers, and policymakers to make more environmentally friendly choices when producing, stocking and purchasing food products.
The researchers who carried out the study, researched four areas of food production that create a negative environmental impact. These areas are land use, greenhouse gas emissions, water stress and the potential for bodies of water to develop algal blooms that are destructive and unhealthy. Using these four areas, researchers have developed an environmental impact score for every 100 grams in a product.
The highest scorers with the biggest environmental impact included cheese, meat and fish. Foods that scored the lowest are cereals, flour, bread, sugar, fruit, and vegetables.
Researchers are hoping that these eco-labels will not only make people more sustainable but also make them healthier. Research has shown that in most cases lower environmental impact food products are also healthier, as the majority of these food products also have a higher nutrient score.
The University of Oxford’s Professor of population health, Peter Scarborough, has claimed that these new eco-labels will have a massive effect on the sustainability of businesses in the food sector, as the new scoring system “fills a huge gap. Manufacturers, caterers and retailers have targets for reaching net zero [emissions] and they don’t have the tools they need to get there. Now they have this data, and some of them are talking to us about things they can do to help people move towards more sustainable food purchasing.”