With regards to unpackaged food, does the current English food legislation protect consumer autonomy in making informed purchase decisions?
This project aims to assess consumer protection within the remit of precooked unpackaged food served in cafes, restaurants and other eatery establishments based on obligations set by the current English Food Information Regulations. It primarily investigates whether consumers are being offered a sufficient level of clear, concise and material information, in a uniform manner allowing consumers the right of making an effectively informed purchase decision. Herein, lies the novelty of this thesis as it ventures into unchartered academic territory, where from the presently conducted literature review one finds little authored materials. The thesis also explores the adequacy of measures set by administrative bodies such as the Food Standards Authority (FSA), Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and other related bodies, assessing whether the current aims, functions, approaches and measures appropriately inform, enforce and penalise food establishments to allow for an effective system. Hence, it considers any problems and difficulties faced by administrative authorities in implementing and enforcing the requirements of food information, finding effective solutions where appropriate.
The novelty of this research lies in assessing and identifying any potential consumer rights infringements based on genuine consumer expectations arising from factors such as medical conditions and lifestyle choices, which are often grounded in firm religious or ethical beliefs, some of which are protected by both domestic and various human rights legislation. To asses this, themes and areas like food allergies, the relationship between human rights and religion and ethics-based food diets, misrepresentation of information through improper labelling practices on food menus and displays, subtle discrimination inherent within the existing legislation and any disparities between current legislation and industry practices are explored. However, for a focussed approach legislation on these areas will be researched only as appropriate, keeping within boundaries of the central question in focus.