FSA’s ‘traffic light label’ rethink

The Food Standards Agency has unveiled plans for new front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition labelling which it says will ‘help consumers make healthier choices when they buy food’.

In March 2006 the FSA recommended a set of principles for FOP labelling that would help consumers understand the levels of fat, saturated fat, salt and sugars in food products, with the majority of UK food manufacturers and retailers now voluntarily using FOP schemes.
However, an independent evaluation of the effectiveness of these schemes published last May revealed that the co-existence of different FOP labels confused consumers. It concluded that the words ‘high, medium and low’ were understood best, and combining this text with traffic light colours and percentage Guideline Daily Amounts (% GDAs) would enable more people to make healthier choices easily.
This research, together with feedback from a public consultation, has led to FSA plans for a single approach to FOP labelling featuring traffic light colours, text and % GDAs.
“This approach is all about what consumers have told us they want, says FSA chief executive Tim Smith. Independent research and citizens’ forums told us that people were confused and wanted a single approach developed by government. We also appreciate and understand that food businesses are starting from different positions. Our proposals respond to what consumers want but also provide some flexibility for business.

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