FSA willing to scrap traffic light scheme

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 IFE on 20 March, FSA chairman 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 lea-ding 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."

In the address to VIP guests at IFE, held at London's ExCeL exhibition centre, Hutton also spoke of the need for government and industry to work together in the FSA's campaign to reduce salt rather than resorting to the "big stick" of regulation. It is good for business," Hutton said of the salt campaign, "because it is driving up demand for lower-salt products that the British food industry has been producing with increasing efficiency over the past few years.

"This approach of working with the industry and others is one that we try to use as the first option - whether the risks are about diet or about food safety."

She also revealed that new television adverts are to be launched shortly, advising consumers to check food labels for salt.

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