Traffic light nutrition labelling kicked out by EU

MEPs have voted to reject proposals to install front-of-pack labelling incorporating traffic-light colours.

Too few MEPs voted in favour of the proposals to enable consumers to see, at a glance, whether products are high in fat, salt or sugar. Red, amber and green would indicate the level of these elements in the contents. The vote also prevents similar schemes at national level.

Christine Haigh, Children’s Food Campaign coordinator, said: "Given that the food industry has invested more than €1 billion in a campaign to block traffic light labelling, including television adverts, lunchtime debates with MEPs, and a stand with a 'prize draw' inside the European Parliament, it is not surprising that profits have triumphed over the continent’s health.

The Food Standards Agency published a report on front-of-pack nutrition signposting in May 2009, concluding that the strongest front-of-pack label combined use of the words 'high, medium, and low', traffic light colours and percentage of Guideline Daily Amount (GDA), in addition to levels of nutrients in a portion of the product.

Traffic light labelling is also supported by retailers such as Asda, The Co-op, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, along with food manufacturers like McCain and the New Covent Garden Soup Co.

>> FSA Board agree single labelling approach

>> FSA could scrap traffic light labelling scheme if it proves unpopular