Universal food labelling launched

Public health minister Anna Soubry has today launched a new front-of-pack universal traffic light food labelling scheme, designed to help consumers make informed decisions and tackle obesity.

The labels will indicate levels of calories, sugar, salt, fat and saturated fat after recent research has shown that current nutrition labels have been confusing.

With a colour-coding of red, amber and green, the labels will hope to tackle rising problems which cost the NHS billions of pounds a year.

Mars UK, Nestlé UK, PepsiCo UK and Premier Foods have already announced that they will be taking part in the labelling.

Soubry said: “The UK already has the largest number of products using a front-of-pack label in Europe, but we know that people get confused by the variety of labels that are used. Research shows that, of all the current schemes, people like this label the most and they can use the information to make healthier choices.

“We all have a responsibility to tackle the challenge of obesity, including the food industry. By having all the major retailers and manufacturers signed up to the consistent label, we will all be able to see at a glance what is in our food – this is why I want to see more manufacturers signing up and using the label.”

Director general of Provision Trade Federation Clare Cheney explained that all bacon will be marked red for salt, trimmed back will be amber for fat and all other bacon will be red for fat. However, Cheney said: “The contribution of fat or salt to the diet made by two rashers of bacon is perfectly manageable within a normal healthy diet. The issue is how that message will be transmitted to consumers who may just decide to avoid all food with red traffic lights.”

British Heart Foundation chief executive Simon Gillespie called the new system a “first-class scheme”, adding that it was essential these labels were “clear and consistent” in order to provide consumers with an informed choice to make healthy decisions.

It is estimated that 60% of food sold in the UK will be using the new labelling, given the number of businesses that have signed up to the new scheme.


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