William Eichler 13 March 2018

Council leaders call for ‘traffic light’ food labelling to fight salt consumption

Local authority chiefs have repeated their calls for the ‘traffic light’ food labelling system to become a legal requirement post-Brexit as health campaigners warn of the high salt content of ready meals.

The campaign group Action on Salt has published a new report to coincide with Salt Awareness Week which warns of the high salt content of Chinese takeaways and ready meals.

The group argued there should be a mandatory health warning on ready-meal packaging and takeaway menus so that consumers are aware of the salt content of their food.

Responding to this call, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Community Wellbeing Board, said such mandatory labelling should be extended to all foods.

Cllr Seccombe insisted that once the UK has left the European Union (EU) the ‘traffic light’ food labelling system should become a legal requirement for all products.

The labels divide food and drink items into low, medium or high depending on how much fat, salt, sugar, saturates and calories each product contains. Those with the highest of each are marked in red.

‘The traffic light food labelling system is clear, effective and popular with shoppers,’ she said.

‘While many retailers and manufacturers have different methods of displaying nutritional content, this can be confusing.

‘As a result, shoppers are unwittingly buying products which are laden with fat, salt and sugar, which is fuelling the obesity crisis.’

‘Any post-Brexit review of EU food laws gives the Government the opportunity to introduce legislation to standardise food labelling,’ she continued.

‘At a time when two-thirds of adults and more than a fifth of four and five-year-olds are obese or overweight, helping people make more informed choices about what they eat will clearly also help tackle the obesity crisis we face as a nation.’

According to Action on Salt, reducing the UK’s average daily salt intake for adults to 6g could prevent about 17,500 deaths from heart attacks and strokes a year.

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