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Manufacturers choose to ignore food labelling guidance

A coalition of 21 manufacturers and three retailers have rejected the government's traffic light system in favour of the Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) system.

They believe that the red labels to be placed on products high in fat, sugar or salt will discourage shoppers from buying their products.

The traffic light system has been developed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) following extensive consultation, to help combat the obesity crisis. It has been supported in the main by Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Co-Op, Marks and Spencer, and Asda.

"If manufacturers choose to produce their own labelling guidance, it will only serve to confuse shoppers," said Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK.

"Giving confusing information is likely to be little better than giving no information at all. Voluntary food labelling will only work if manufacturers look at it from the view of the consumer, rather than suiting themselves.

"The traffic light system has proved to be the quickest and easiest way for consumers to know what's in the food they are buying.

"People with diabetes, or those seeking to reduce the risk of developing the condition, need information about foods to help them make the right choices on what to eat."

The largest survey comparing the two systems found:

  • Three in five people misunderstood ‘per cent of GDA’ labels. In comparison, only one in five misunderstood traffic light labels.
  • Two in five consumers said that ‘per cent of GDA’ labels were too complicated.
  • ‘Per cent of GDA’ labels took at least three seconds longer for individuals to interpret.

Supporters of the GDA system are led by the Food and Drink Federation and include:

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