FSA could scrap traffic light labelling scheme if proves unpopular

The food standards agency (FSA) will scrap the controversial traffic light front-of-pack labelling scheme next year if it is proved to be unpopular, it has been revealed.

Speaking at the international food exhibition (IFE) last week, FSA chairwoman Dame Deirdre Hutton said: "We're an evidence based agency." Asked if she would scrap the scheme if it was unpopular in 2008, Hutton said: "Of course we will. I would expect everyone involved in this, not just the agency, to go with this."

But she defended the scheme, which Tesco has so-far rejected, as being "based on the advice of leading nutrition scientists."

She said: "We tested this approach in the most extensive piece of consumer research that is publicly available with over 2,600 consumers.

"What we now have is a chance to involve 60m British consumers in the biggest piece of behavioural research of its kind being done anywhere in the world."

A spokesperson for Asda said: "We've always been in favour of a common sense, cross-industry approach and believe the FSA's proposals would give customers the nutritional information they need across in a clear, consistent and simple way. But, as ever, we'll let our customers be the judge."

A Sainsbury's spokesperson said: "We are committed to using our own traffic light labelling system ('Wheel of Health') which customers are responding well to."

Tesco and Morrisons both declined to comment on Hutton's remarks.

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