“We are delighted that government has finally agreed to recommend front of pack traffic light labelling. You won't have to be a maths genius any more to work out which is the healthier product to buy.
Given this announcement, Government should name and shame food companies delaying using traffic light colours on their processed food and drink products. It has been clear for at least three years that this is a good way to help people choose healthier products, and companies now have no excuse not to commit to traffic light labelling.
Of the top 10 supermarkets, only Iceland is left out in the cold and is still refusing to commit to using traffic light labelling. Big food manufacturers must now also confirm their commitment to traffic lights, or else be shamed”.
1. Details of the announcement will appear on the Department of Health’s website from 24 October http://www.dh.gov.uk
2. Following increasing pressure from public interest organisations, the following supermarkets have recently announced that they would join Asda, Co-operative, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose in adopting front of pack labels which use traffic light colours:
Many big food manufacturers, including Kellogg’s, Kraft, Mars, Nestle and PepsiCo have avoided using traffic light labelling, even though Food Standards Agency research has long shown that colour coding provides the most helpful format for consumers (see 4. below).
3. The Children’s Food Campaign has been campaigning for many years for the whole food industry to adopt traffic light labels. We have long argued that traffic light colours make food labels easier for people, especially children, to understand, and can be used to teach children about healthy diets. Traffic light colours also tend to reduce saturated fat, sugar and salt in products as food manufacturers try to reduce the numbers of red lights on their product labels.
4. Independent research funded by the Food Standards Agency showed as far back as 2009 that consumers find labelling schemes which include traffic light labels most helpful in quickly assessing the healthiness of a food at the point of purchase. Tesco’s own research, referred to in its press release of 22nd August (see above), supports these findings.
5. The Government has recently consulted on preferences for a consistent national format of food labelling to recommend to industry. For a joint response from 33 civil society organisations, which recommends using traffic light colour coding, see the food labelling page of our website.
6. The Children’s Food Campaign aims to improve young people’s health and well-being through better food – and food teaching – in schools and by protecting children from junk food marketing. We are supported by over 150 national organisations and co-ordinated by Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming. For more information see www.childrensfood.org.uk