King criticises Tesco over labelling scheme
Published:  11 September, 2006

Justin King, head of supermarket giant Sainsbury's, has criticised rival Tesco over its choice of food labelling scheme.

Commenting in The Telegraph (8th September) King claimed the guideline daily allowance (GDA) scheme, favoured by Tesco and many of the largest food manufacturers, was 'misleading to customers' and instead said the food industry should instead adopt the Government's traffic-light labelling scheme.

In the article King (pictured) stated: "Everyone involved in this industry should be focused on helping customers make healthy choices. GDA labelling does not help the vast majority of consumers make a change in their diets."

The labelling debate has become a contentious issue for the food industry over the last year or so with the government, which has accused the industry of dragging its heels on the subject, threatening to enforce the traffic light system if the industry fails to adopt it voluntarily.

Along with Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Asda and the Co-operative Group are also supporting the traffic light scheme, which gives red, amber or green traffic lights for levels of sugar, fat and salt content.

King told The Telegraph that retailers and manufacturers could use GDAs 'in a misleading way', while criticising companies which used colours that 'had no connection to the amount of fat, sugar or salt to highlight GDA information'; citing Tesco's use of the colour green to highlight the GDA information on the front of some packs, as an example. "Using green can only be designed to confuse customers - it is difficult to draw any other conclusion," King added. "There is no possible argument for using colours to highlight GDAs. At best it is confusing."

A spokesperson for Tesco argued: "Our customers are clear our system is not colour-coded and are using GDAs to make significant changes to their diet."