UK to debut 'Traffic light' food label
LONDON – The United Kingdom’s Department of Health plans to introduce a consistent front-of-pack label that will be color-coded much like a traffic light. The announcement was made Oct. 24 by Anna Soubry, health minister, and the new label is expected to be in use by the summer of 2013.
“The UK already has the largest number of products with front-of-pack labels in Europe but research has shown that consumers get confused by the wide variety of labels used,” Soubry said. “By having a consistent system we will all be able to see at a glance what is in our food. This will help us all choose healthier options and control our calorie intake.
“Obesity and poor diet cost the NHS (National Health Service) billions of pounds every year. Making small changes to our diet can have a big impact on our health and could stop us getting serious illnesses — such as heart disease — later in life.”
The Department of Health said many retailers already use variants of a hybrid system. However, they each display the information with different visuals, color and content making it hard for consumers to compare foods.
The UK governments are going to start working with industry and other affected businesses to agree on the details of the new labeling system to ensure they use consistent visuals. Once the program is in place, each front-of-pack label will show how much fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar, and how many calories are in food products, according to the Department of Health.