Carbon footprint labels on food packets might help cut emissions

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Sydney, Dec 18 (IANS) Labelling food packets with carbon footprint can help reduce potential environmental impacts, says a new study.

The study showed the introduction of carbon footprint labels on food items could be a simple intervention to increase understanding of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions emerging from food production.

For example, a vegan diet based on fruits, vegetables and grains has the least impact on the environment, while pork, chicken and fish create a moderate impact.

Conversely, beef and lamb with 19 per cent to 29 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions are the biggest contributors, explained the researchers from the University of Technology Sydney in Australia.

“If you ask people to guess the difference between items such as beef and vegetable soup on the environment they assume there is not much difference, but beef soup creates more than 10 times the amount of greenhouse gases than vegetable soup,” said Adrian Camilleri, lead researcher from the varsity.

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“The choices we make at the dinner table can have a significant impact on global challenges such as climate change, and our research shows consumers are keen to make that choice,” she added.

For the study, described in the journal Nature Climate Change, the team presented 120 participants with a choice of soups to buy.

When the soups had a carbon footprint label, participants bought fewer beef soups and more vegetable soups than when there was no label provided.

Greenhouse gases emerging from beef and lamb production include those created in the production of fertiliser for feed, methane emitted from the animals, livestock transportation and the loss of trees to clear land for pasture.

Therefore, shifting diets towards fruits and vegetables could be a promising strategy for reducing climate change, the researchers stated.

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–IANS

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