Traffic light labelling

You may have seen reports in the media this morning about ‘front-of-pack labelling’ for fat, sugar and salt in food. The Agency welcomes this move by the food manufacturers and retailers as we know from our research that consumers want clear front-of-pack information on fat, sugar and salt in order to make healthier choices about food purchases.

There are currently two systems being used: one based on percentages of Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) of fat, sugar and salt (for example a portion contains 35% of your GDA of salt) and a traffic light system which gives numerical information with red, amber and green for high, medium and low amounts each of fat, sugar and salt.

Our research with over 2500 consumers showed that they favoured the traffic light system because it provides such a quick ‘at a glance’ guide for busy shoppers.  The proponents of the GDA system argue that the traffic light system is simplistic.

The real advantage to consumers of front-of-pack labelling is for foods such as ready meals and sandwiches, which can contain many ingredients and surprisingly different levels of fat, sugar and salt.  Early indications are that consumers are using this new labelling to switch to healthier options, which is good news for all of us.