RSS Entries ATOM Entries

Water Labels on Food

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on August 19th, 2009

Source: Cleanfood, the Future Climate newsletter

Water Label table
Table from “Water labels on food – Issues and recommendations” Ruth Segal & Tom MacMillan (July 2009)

“A new label proposed in the UK will ask consumers to consider the efficiency and impact of water use on the food products they buy. But rather than detailing figures on the actual amount of water used in production, it will indicate how responsible the company has been in using water. Tom MacMillan, the executive director for UK think tank and advisory body, the Food Ethics Council, admits labels aren’t the answer to everything. “One of the reasons labels can be useful is that actually companies clean their act up before they even stick the label on,” he says. “So it’s not just about giving shoppers information. It’s also about making companies think very seriously about what their impacts are on the environment.”” ABC Rural News.

“Across the globe, water scarcity is shaping up to be one of the most pressing environmental, social and economic challenges of coming decades. A new report examines what we should do about it.

We need water – lots of it – to grow food. We use 140 litres of water to make a cup of coffee, and 8,000 litres to produce 500g of beef.

Our use of water to produce food becomes a critical issue when water is taken out of an ecosystem faster than the system can be replenished by natural processes. This over-exploitation can lead to a range of environmental problems, including decreased river flows, shrinking lakes and polluted groundwater.

The Food Ethics Council has produced a report for Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming, assessing how policy and industry initiatives can help to reduce the water footprint of the food we grow and eat. We looked at the value of labels in promoting sustainable water use and their effectiveness in communicating water footprints to consumers.

We found that there are many factors to consider when assessing whether water has been used sustainably during a production process. They include the amount of water used, where it comes from, how its use affects the local ecosystem, what other uses water in that location is needed for, and how decisions are made about the water used.

We recommended to Sustain that a water stewardship labelling system would best address the complex criteria involved in judging water sustainability.” Food Ethics Council

Download the full report, including recommendations.

Comments are closed.