William Eichler 19 September 2016

Traffic light food labelling should be mandatory, say councils

Traffic light labelling showing the nutritional content of food and drink should be made a legal requirement, council chiefs say.

In 2013 the Department for Health introduced a voluntary traffic light scheme, which is currently displayed on two thirds of products sold in the UK.

The labelling uses red, amber and green signals to show consumers whether a product is, respectively, high, medium or low in fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt.

Shoppers on average take 15 seconds to choose an item in a supermarket, so clear labelling can make it easier for them to choose healthier products.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has called on the Government to ensure the traffic light system becomes UK law.

One aspect of Whitehall’s recently announced childhood obesity plan is to look at food labelling.

‘Councils have long called for better labelling of food and drink to help consumers make more informed and healthier choices,’ said the chairman of the LGA's community wellbeing board, Cllr Izzi Seccombe.

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

‘Consumers need a single, standard and consistent system which should be universally adopted. It needs to be something that they can read and understand quickly and easily.’

Cllr Seccombe added that while the UK is ‘leading the way’ with the traffic light scheme, councils want the Government to ‘go one step further and make it mandatory for all retailers and manufacturers to adopt.’

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