The Department of Health has announced that a hybrid system of food labeling has been ratified by major UK supermarkets.
A system has been outlined which will comprise Guideline Daily Amounts, colour coding and ‘high/medium/low text’ following a three month consultation ‘with retailers, manufacturers and other interested parties on what a consistent, clear front of pack label should look like,’ according to The Department of Health.
Guidelines for what became known as ‘the traffic light system,’ a term colloquially coined by Bell Design, were designed by the consultancy in 2005, and updated in 2009.
These were delivered for the Food Standards Agency but the responsibility of food labeling has since moved to the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs.
After Bell Design’s system was handed to the Food Standards Agency, consultancy account director Kate Sanderson says, ‘There was a kick-back from the supermarkets who interpreted it in their own way. Obviously it was originally designed to simplify.’
Retailers currently use variants of a hybrid system, and some provide only GDA. Each display the information with different visuals, colour and content which The Department of Health says ‘makes it difficult for customers to make comparisons.’
The Department of Health says, ‘The UK Governments will be working with industry and other partners to agree the detail of the system and make sure they use consistent visuals to show – on front of packs – how much fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar, and how many calories are in food products.’
Although The Department of Health says the new label is expected to be in use by summer 2013, a spokeswoman says as yet there is no indication as to how this will be implemented.
Sanderson says Bell Design would look to approach government ‘if they take this forward, as and when we can.’