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Food labels will help public choose wisely

Hybrid ‘traffic light’ system finally agreed with manufacturers and retailers

Louise Prime

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

People’s confusion over whether or not their food choices are ‘healthy’ is set to end by next summer, the government announced this morning. It has finally reached an agreement with food manufacturers over a unified system of nutritional labelling that should make it much easier and quicker for the public to compare different products.

After years of wrangling and lobbying by food producers as well as health campaigners, a hybrid traffic light system for clearly showing foods’ nutritional values has now been agreed by the UK’s four governments and food manufacturers, retailers and other interested parties, to take effect by summer 2013.

The colour-coded system will provide information in a consistent visual format on the front of packs, including guideline daily amounts and foods’ energy, fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt content.

Public health minister Anna Soubry said: “Research has shown that consumers get confused by the wide variety of labels used. By having a consistent system we will all be able to see at a glance what is in our food. This will help us all choose healthier options and control our calorie intake.”

The British Heart Foundation said clear and consistent food labelling is vital to help shoppers make healthy choices given the UK’s high levels of diet-related chronic disease. The charity’s chief executive Peter Hollins expressed their delight at the announcement. He said: “This is a quantum leap for public health and the result of tireless work by health campaigners and positive action by our governments.

“It’s now down to each and every retailer and manufacturer to step up and introduce these consistent front of pack food labels, including traffic light colours, so shoppers can make healthy food choices at a glance.”

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