One problem with clean label, MacCleery said, is it means different things to different people, companies and restaurants.
“There is a big opportunity for the industry and public health community to get together and say: ‘A meaningful clean label programme would have these elements […] with these kinds of nutrition considerations. It would have voluntary agreements around on-pack marketing, it would resist deceptive marketing practices and would include sustainability elements.”
According to O’Brien, however, some elements of the clean label movement have not helped because it demonises certain additives.
“We need to use scientific words when comparing different additives. One of the problems that has got us where we are today is, we’ve been demonising things,” said O’Brien. “Even the word clean meat makes out that conventional meat from animals is somehow inferior to what’s coming in the future.”