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Red light for traffic lights

The Children’s Food Campaign today reacted with disappointment that sufficient MEPs had failed to vote in favour of a traffic light nutrition labelling scheme for food products across Europe, and expressed anger that the vote prevents such schemes at a national level.

Independent research has found that a single front-of-pack labelling scheme incorporating traffic-light colours is the most effective way to enable consumers to see at a glance whether products are high in fat, salt or sugar.

Dr Mike Rayner, Chair of the Children’s Food Campaign said:

“With over half of Europeans and more than 60% of people in the UK now overweight, this outcome is a massive blow for consumers.  Traffic light labels have been found to help parents make healthier food choices for their children, so their rejection is yet another set back in the fight against childhood obesity.”

Christine Haigh, Children’s Food Campaign Coordinator said:

“Given that the food industry has invested more than €1 billion in a campaign to block traffic light labelling, included television adverts, lunchtime debates with MEPs, and a stand with a “prize draw” inside the European Parliament it is not surprising that profits have triumphed over the continent’s health.”


For further information please contact Christine Haigh on 020 7065 0902 / 07870 577934 or


Notes to editors:

  1. The Children's Food Campaign wants to improve children's health and well-being through better food - and food teaching - in schools, and protecting children from junk food marketing. We are supported by over 300 organisations. The Children's Food Campaign is coordinated by Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming and funded by the British Heart Foundation. For more information please go to:
  2.  The UK’s Food Standards Agency commissioned an independent group of experts to lead a front-of-pack nutrition signpost evaluation project.  The final report from this research was published in May 2009 and concluded that the strongest front-of-pack label combined use of the words 'high, medium, and low', traffic light colours and percentage of Guideline Daily Amount (GDA), in addition to levels of nutrients in a portion of the product.  For more information, see
  3.  Traffic light labelling system is supported by retailers such as Asda, the Co-op, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose along with food manufacturers like McCain and the New Covent Garden Soup Co.
  4.  “A red light for consumer information – The food industry’s €1-billion campaign to block health warnings on food”, Corporate Europe Observatory, June 2010 is available online at