Tesco ditches FSA backed traffic light labelling

Related tags Nutrition

Leading British supermarket Tesco has decided to ditch the UK
government-backed traffic light food labelling scheme, opting
instead for its own numbers based system.

The retailer said it will label hundreds of its own label packs with the amount of salt, fat, saturated fat, sugar and calories in a serving of each product in grams. Tesco added that the labels will also state how much of the guideline daily amount this makes up - so customers can get an idea of how this fits into their diet as a whole.

Tesco said it had rejected the traffic light scheme - whereby foods are labeled with either red, amber or green depending on their nutritional value - because it was too simplistic.

"Customers did not know how to treat amber and could not relate the system to daily consumption. Feedback also showed traffic lights could mislead customers by creating 'red foods' such as many dairy items, which in fact provide important nutrients like calcium,"​ said Tesco.

On the other had, the supermarket said that its chosen method of labelling means that consumers will find it easier to monitor a particular ingredient of concern, such as salt for those shoppers with high blood pressure.

"Signposts provide clear and easy to understand information in a way which gives customers the power to choose products that will help them follow a balanced diet,"​said marketing director Tim Mason."Because they are split into five main categories the signposts also help customers who have specific dietary needs to keep a close eye on any area they might be worried about."

The FSA published research last November that claimed UK consumers had a preference for the traffic light system and would like to see a national labelling system in place. However, many food companies are not sure this system is in their interest, especially those who may see their food "blacklisted" with a warning red spot.

The British arm of Nestlé recently revamped its nutrition labels, printing guideline daily amounts (GDA) for calories and fat alongside per serving nutritional information across its whole UK product portfolio, including confectionery, breakfast cereals, coffee and pasta. Moreover, products from companies like Kellogg's, Kraft, Unilever and Walkers carry GDA information rather than a traffic light system.

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