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MEPs vote against a traffic-light food labelling system

Diabetes UK has expressed dismay after Euro-MPs voted against the Europe-wide introduction of the traffic-light labelling system on the front of food packaging. MEPs voted instead for a standardised display of guideline daily amounts (GDA) on the front of food packages.

Clear food labelling

The traffic-light system is widely seen as the simplest way of showing consumers what is in their food, marking the packaging with red, amber or green symbols depending on the levels of sugar, fat and salt content.

Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, Douglas Smallwood, was one of several key signatories to a joint letter from several leading health charities calling for MEPs to vote in favour of the traffic-light food labelling system rather than a guideline daily amount.

Diabetes UK believes that a single front-of-pack labelling scheme including traffic light colours is most helpful for consumers to see immediately which foods have the highest levels of fat, salt or sugar. “There is evidence which shows the traffic-light system works better than the GDA percentage system in allowing people to assess nutrient content and compare different foods, so this is a very disappointing outcome”, said Simon O'Neill, Diabetes UK Director of Care, Information and Advocacy Services. 

Obesity and diabetes

He added: “With around two thirds of adults in the UK classed as overweight or obese, this vote is a bad result for consumers. Obesity significantly increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes and has large cost implications for the NHS too.”  In the run-up to the crucial vote MEPs faced significant lobbying from the food manufacturing industry which claimed that the traffic-light system was too simplistic.

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