Unilever’s HR chief confirms plans to introduce nutritional food labelling in its canteens

Unilever’s HR director has confirmed plans to introduce nutritional food labelling in all of its canteens by the end of the year in a bid to help employees eat healthily and lose more weight.

It follows a successful year-long health pilot, which included health checks and the provision of ‘attention grabbing’ nutritional information in staff canteens, which helped employees make informed dietary choices.

Alan Walters, vice-president of HR, Unilever & Ireland, which employs more than 7,500 employees, told Personnel Today that the food labelling, which formed part of the firm’s ‘Fit Business’ initiative, had been well received by staff.

He said information on calories, sugar, fat and salt helped staff make informed decisions. “We saw some real changes. Of the people in a factory environment, 19% were taking salt into account. For our business to perform at its best, we want our people to be performing at their best. There are benefits to employees and the business.”

Walters also called on the government to encourage food labelling in the workplace.

“We spend so much time in work, and most people eat one or two meals a day while at work,” he said. “There’s an opportunity to make a real impact and informed decision-making by having labelling. Considering how that can be spread in the workplace would be an important thing.”

A spokeswoman for the Food Standards Agency said: “Many people eat regularly in their workplace canteen/restaurant and the Agency is working with a number of them – including Unilever’s caterer Sodexo – to help encourage the provision of healthier food and choices.

“We welcome the introduction of food labelling in Unilever’s canteens, as, among other things, it can make a real difference in helping people to choose healthier options.”

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