After many recent setbacks, it is pleasing to report a small but significant bit of progress in the long campaign to make the metric system (SI) the default system of measurement in the UK. This minor (but perhaps somewhat pyrrhic) victory concerns front-of-pack (FOP) labelling.
A recent consultation by the UK Department of Health about food labelling has drawn attention to two long-standing issues, both relating to food energy and the calorie.
One of our readers wrote to Sainsbury’s to ask that guideline daily amounts (GDAs) of energy shown on packaging should be shown in kilojoules, the SI unit, as well as or instead of kilocalories. He has received a reply that provides cause for optimism.
The recent consultation on so-called “calories” on menus, together with the launch of more new models of electric cars has prompted these thoughts on the dysfunctional way in which we measure energy and power. This muddle reflects a lack of understanding of basic science and prevents people from making useful comparisons. We should standardise on the joule (J) and the watt (W).
The very worthy proposal of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) that menus should state energy values is undermined by its failure to use proper measurement units. UKMA has responded by advocating joules rather than so-called “calories” (whatever they may be).