Food Label Traffic Light System

Traffic light coloured labels are specially selected to highlight the quantity of saturated fat, salt, and sugar present in the food. The prominent colours like red, amber or green help attract consumers’ attention and inform them correctly about the nutrient content. The UK Government has recently introduced traffic light food labeling to be prominently placed on the food packets.


The food manufacturers have used labels to inform public about the nutrient content. Research shows that the traditional method of labeling has failed to inform public about the desired information. The new traffic light food labeling has had a immediate impact on consumer behavior in the UK. A survey conducted last week clearly proved that consumers picked more products with the new traffic light labels from the shelf than with the regular labels of nutrient information. Thus, it is proving to show more transparency to consumers in their buying decisions. For ages manufacturers have used a variety of labels to inform about the percentage of nutrients, but that has failed to reach consumers clearly before purchasing.


Although most retailers have agreed to this new rule implemented by the Government, some still continue to label the products using “% guideline amounts”. Product manufacturers like Pepsi, Nestle and McCain have all agreed to follow the new method of labeling. However, other brands like Kellogg’s and Coca Cola showed reservation in joining the scheme. Since the scheme is just a recommendation from the Government’s office and not a compulsory rule, companies can only be requested and can’t be forced. Food labels are therefore being placed as per manufacturer’s preference.


In 2008 The Food Standards Agency first requested for implementing traffic light labeling on food products. The idea was heavily objected and criticized by many retailers and manufacturers. But the new system announced by the Department of Health, mentions about the big red stickers that have to be placed on the food packets. It is expected that though it is not a compulsory scheme, about 60% of the retailers will take up the scheme.


The decision has been welcomed by the health care institutions, British Heart Foundation, children food specialists and Diabetes foundation. They have supported the new policy wholeheartedly (excuse the pun!!).  


At present there is a mixed reaction in the market. While some manufacturers have accepted it, some are willing to review the effectiveness and labeling expense before adopting the scheme. Apparently, small scale product manufacturers are facing trouble in coping with the sudden rise in the labeling cost by introducing traffic light labels on the front of packaging. Whilst the UK Government has put in place this best practice for Food labeling with the traffic light system, the Australian Government has also recommended its own star labeling schemes. This is sure to add to more cost and confusion for large multinationals.


At LabelService we offer affordable bespoke labeling solutions, particularly in the food labels industry. For more information about how we can help or how the legislation has impacted your business and the options please feel free to contact us.