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OCU declares its Know What We Eat campaign a success

05 may. 2016

The campaign to put an end to misleading food labels receives and important response from consumers 

One year after launching its "Know what we Eat" campaign, the Organisation of Consumers and Users has just taken stock of the results and highlights the significant support consumers gave to this campaign. OCU's goal with this action, launched in April of 2015, was to denounce the often times misleading practices some manufacturers use when labelling their products. As OCU points out, these practices do not constitute a fraud carried out by manufacturers but rather the use of specific labelling techniques which could mislead consumers and make their products seem more attractive. Besides being unethical, these practices, in OCU's opinion, are not only damaging for consumers but are also harmful for the manufacturers themselves since they generate distrust and dissatisfaction among consumers.  

Now that the campaign has finished, OCU is very pleased with the response consumers had. More than 5,200 people signed up for this campaign via OCU's Movilízate webpage, a website where OCU makes its current campaigns available to consumers. Additionally, OCU would like to highlight the following this campaign had on social networks, through which we were able to discover more than 300 instances of misleading labels. This allowed us to be able to contact the manufacturers involved resulting, in many cases, in the correction of these questionable practices.

Among the most usual cases OCU found were the practices of manipulating percentages, the lack of clarity with regards to the ingredients used in the manufacturing of the products or the use of photographs in which only those elements the manufacturers wish to highlight are emphasized while the presence of other ingredients are conveniently hidden. As OCU points out, in many occasions the only way to realise that these tricks are being used is to carefully read the labels. This task is, at times, incredibly difficult due to the extremely small size of the text used.

Special mention must be made of those products claiming to be natural or artisanal. This is one of the tricks used by manufacturers which irritates consumers most when they realise that these so-called natural products are merely industrially produced food items. This occurs frequently with Madeleine cakes, breads or crisps. A similar thing happens with the photographs that appear on the packaging which, frequently, have nothing to do with what the consumer finds inside. In these cases, there is nothing consumers can do to make a claim against manufacturers for the simple reason that they have used the term "serving suggestion" on the packaging.

For all of these reasons, OCU is demanding a variety of measures with the goal of ending these misleading labelling practices, such as: making it mandatory for the ingredients listed on each product be placed next to their percentages using the same text size, ensuring that advertising claims do not overshadow the mandatory information on the package, refraining from using the term "natural"· until strict regulations regarding its use have been established or substituting the phrase "serving suggestion" for real photographs of the products. 

For more information, please contact Eva Jiménez (media). Telephone: 917226061 prensa@ocu.org