A new voluntary scheme is being introduced with the intention of providing consumers with a consistent food labelling system for food products within our supermarkets.
The NHS estimates a shocking £5bn a year is currently being spent in treating health problems relating to our current obesity crisis in the UK. This includes conditions such as heart disease and stroke.
After a three-month consultation with retailers, manufacturers and other interested parties, a new system has been proposed. Consumers will soon be able to make a more informed decision when choosing which products they will buy due to the new front of pack (FoP) labelling system making comparisons simpler.
Anna Soubry, our Public Health Minister told us, "The UK already has the largest number of products with front of pack labels in Europe but research has shown that the consumers get confused by the wide variety of labels used. By having a consistent system we will be able to see at a glance what is in our food. This will help us all choose healthier options and control our intake."
The new hybrid labelling system will hopefully help the consumer to take a new healthier approach whilst shopping. The traffic light coded food labels will indicate how much fat, sugar and salt a product has through its red, amber and green colour coding. The aim is not to deter consumers from eating certain products but to educate them about a balanced diet.
The only current obstacle facing manufacturers is that there is no commonly agreed portion size across the EU, meaning that the traffic light system could be being produced for different quantities of food making direct comparisons inaccurate without further investigations by the consumer.
Many manufacturers currently use a similar style of labelling, but criticism has arisen due to the extent of which they vary. Some display the information with different visuals, colour and content with certain products only providing the Guideline Daily Allowance (GDA).
The new Government FoP scheme is backed by big named food producers such as Pepsico and Nestle who also want to see a more consistent style of labelling in an effort to help the consumer choose more healthily. However we must remember that this is not the only factor influencing the consumer, with price, habit and brands also impacting on our product choices.