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Food labelling confusion

FSA to unveil 'traffic light' food labels

Labels on the front of packs will ‘signpost’ the level of these ingredients, so you can spot, say, fatty foods at a glance.

The idea of the voluntary scheme is to cut confusion by simplifying the plethora of logos and claims about healthiness that litter food packaging; all would carry the same symbols.

However, it seems that some companies aren’t keen on making life simple for consumers. Several won’t be using the scheme, despite the extensive research behind it.

We challenged the four major supermarket chains to tell us their plans.

Sainsbury’s said it would stick with its own ‘Wheel of Health’, launched in January 2005. This shows salt, sugar, fat and calorie content, and is colour-coded to flag up high amounts.

Tesco, which launched its own colourful ‘signposts’ in April last year, refused to say whether or not it would adopt the FSA scheme. It claims its own scheme meets the same objectives. But its colours could add to confusion, since the FSA is likely to use colours but in a different way.

Morrisons – which doesn’t have a scheme yet – wouldn’t commit itself before seeing the FSA’s final version.

Only Asda said it was working with the FSA in the hope that a universal scheme could be launched.

Meanwhile, five food manufacturers have said they’ll share their own scheme. Danone, Kellogg’s, Kraft, Nestlé and PepsiCo plan to indicate on packs the amount of calories, fat, sugar, saturates and salt per portion. This will be shown as a percentage of a person’s guideline daily amount, too.

Which? Chief Policy Adviser Sue Davies said: ‘Companies that develop their own schemes will add to the confusion.’


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