New consistent food labelling – a welcome move

By on 19/06/2013 in News

Birmingham Public Health’s consultant dietician Linda Hindle has welcomed plans to introduce a new ‘traffic light’ system for food labelling.

Under the voluntary scheme, a combination of colour coding and nutritional information will be used to show how much fat, salt and sugar and how many calories are in each product.

The announcement of a new consistent system follows a public consultation last year and months of talks with the food industry and it is hoped the labelling will make it easier for people to make healthier choices about what they buy and eat.

And Hindle, who also takes a national lead in the fight against obesity as Chair of Dietitians in Obesity Management UK, believes the news represents a big step in the right direction.

She said: “I think this is great news and long awaited. For the first time we will have a consistent method of front of pack labelling making it easier for consumers to directly compare different products. Previously retailers used different systems which added to the confusion.

“The clear and obvious colour coding mean consumers can quickly see which products have less fat and sugar, making healthy choices easier to make.

“Because retailers and consumers are keen to give their product a competitive edge, this explicit labelling system is leading them to reformulate products to achieve more amber and green on their labels, this can only be good news.”

New food labels

The new, standardised food labels will be displayed on the front of food and drink products and they will routinely include the following information per portion of food:

  • the amount of energy (presented in kilojoules (kJ) and kilocalories (kcal), known as calories)
  • the amount of fat and saturated fat
  • the amount of sugar
  • the amount of salt

These amounts will be shown as 'Reference Intakes' (formerly known as 'Guideline Daily Amounts'). Alongside the amounts listed above, food labels will show how much of the maximum daily intake a portion of food accounts for.

Food labels will also contain red, amber and green colour-coding to visually show the nutritional value of food portions. This will allow people to see at a glance if the food product has high, medium or low amounts of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt:

  • red means high
  • amber means medium
  • green means low
  • In short, the more green lights, the healthier the choice.

Read more about the terms used on food labels:

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