It’s a big day for healthy choices – the new food traffic light label scheme has been announced. Have you spotted any red, amber or green labels on your favourite products?
Today the government announced a new nutrition labelling scheme. It will include traffic light colour coding to tell you the levels of fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt in foods. The new labels will also provide information about the percentage reference intake (until now called ‘guideline daily amounts’ or GDAs).
This may sound slightly familiar to you. Which? has been campaigning for traffic light labelling for nearly a decade. And if you’ve been shopping in Asda, The Co-operative, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose or buying McCain products, for example, traffic lights on the front of food packaging will be nothing new.
But today really does mark the start of something different and more fundamental. All 10 major supermarkets have committed to using the new scheme on their own-brand products. They will be rolling it out over the next few months and will all use the same criteria that have been developed by the Department of Health.
Big names on board
Crucially, several of the leading food manufacturers have also committed to use the scheme for the first time. These manufacturers are Mars UK, Nestle UK, PepsiCo UK and Premier Foods. This means that products like Mars bars and Mr Kipling cakes will soon have red, amber or green colour coding, so you can easily see which products are high, medium or low in fat, sugar and salt. The businesses that have signed up to using the new labels account for more than 60% of the food sold in the UK.
Until now these manufacturers have been putting percentage GDAs on their packs, but had not adopted traffic light colour coding. Their support for the new labels is an enormous change and we hope that other manufacturers, like Kellogg’s and Unilever, will quickly follow their example.
Many people tell us that they struggle to eat healthily. Consistent nutrition labelling is one of the top actions people think would help them make healthier choices.
Our consumer research shows that traffic light labels work best for most people – making it easy to compare products and spot the healthier choices among the vast array of foods on offer.
Traffic lights also act as an incentive for food manufacturers to make their products healthier, so that they can offer consumers a choice of products carrying more ‘ambers’ and ‘greens’, rather than ‘reds’.
Today marks an important step forward. We now need the rest of the food manufacturers to commit to using this new scheme.