The Food Standards Agency’s attempt to introduce a UK-wide traffic light food labelling scheme was effectively derailed last week, when supermarkets Tesco and Morrisons refused to reverse a decision not to adopt the front-of-pack designs.
Only a select number of own-brands look set to carry the red-amber-green designs, which alert customers to safe and risky levels of salt, fat, saturated fat and sugar in prepared food products – after a consortium of major fmcg groups, including Danone, Kraft, Kelloggs, Nestlé and PepsiCo opted to launch a less provocative system of labels themselves last month (DW 23 February).
But such rival schemes were pilloried by the FSA, according to The Times, which printed an internal memo to FSA board members, last week, that read, ‘Information as adopted by Tesco and several manufacturers is not helpful and may be misleading’.
It now looks likely that only a handful of own-brand labels will adopt variations of the traffic-light scheme, such as Sainsbury’s Wheel of Health, designed by BR&Me. Other supermarkets, including Waitrose, Co-op and Asda, are using the traffic light system, which the FSA this week formally advocated as being the best design for the UK’s grocery sector to adopt for packaging.
FSA chairman Deirdre Hutton defended the traffic light labelling, saying, ‘We all lead busy lives, so making healthier choices, when shopping, needs to be quick and easy.’
Extensive independent testing for the FSA showed that consumers found the traffic light designs to be the most usable and effective of the various schemes that were being trialled.