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Press Release: May 2009: A single, standard front of pack labelling scheme with traffic light colours is needed without delay says National Heart Forum

06 May 2009

Commenting on results released today (Wednesday 6 May) of the independent evaluation of nutrition signpost labelling schemes in the UK market commissioned by the Food Standards Agency [1], Jane Landon, deputy chief executive of the National Heart Forum [2] said:

"We welcome this thorough, robust and independent study which shows us what information consumers find most helpful when they are making healthier food choices. It is no surprise that people from all social groups find the traffic light colours useful to help them identify at a glance whether foods are high, medium or low in the key nutrients. Secondly, this research clearly confirms what other studies have shown -  that consumers value front of pack nutritional labelling but they want a single scheme instead of different competing schemes so that nutritional information is consistent and comparable, whatever brand they buy and wherever they shop.

"For over 20 years, public health groups, consumer organisations and MPs [3] have been calling for clear, consistent traffic light nutritional labelling on front of pack. Most retailers and manufacturers now provide nutritional labelling on their products and many use traffic light labels, but it remains a lottery whether or not consumers get information in a form they can easily interpret and use. We need food companies to adopt a common approach based on the findings of this research as a matter of urgency so that all consumers can benefit from the label format that has been proven to be the most useful. At a time when consumers need and want help to eat more healthily, food companies will fail to meet the needs of their customers if they do not co-operate with a standardised scheme in the strongest format."

Press Contacts

Please contact Jane Landon or Paul Lincoln on 020 7383 7638 or via mobile on (JL)  07929 785196 or (PL) 07946 433215.

Notes to editors

  1. 'Comprehension and use of UK nutrition signpost labelling schemes' is an independent study commissioned by the Food Standards Agency to evaluate front of pack labelling schemes in the UK market. The key conclusions of the study are that a) the coexistence of a range of label formats in the marketplace causes difficulties for shoppers and that standardising to just one label format would enhance use and comprehension of front of pack labels; and b) that the strongest front of pack labels are those which combine text (high, medium, low) traffic light colours and %GDA information. The details are available on the Food Standards Agency website. www.foodstandards.gov.uk

  2. House of Commons Health Committee. Third Report - Health Inequalities. February 2009.
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