Food Giants Challenge UK Government's Nutrition Labelling System

06 September 2006

LONDON: The Blair administration's attempts to tackle the growing problem of obesity in the UK via 'traffic light' food labelling has been thrown into further disarray by manufacturers' plans to launch an advertising campaign for their own system.

A report by British newspaper, the Sunday Times says Danone, Kellogg's, Kraft, Nestlé and PepsiCo have teamed up to display the percentage of guideline daily allowance of sugar, fat and salt contained in their products, but without colours.

The companies, all members of the UK Food & Drink Federation, are now proposing a joint television and press campaign to promote the scheme. Details are still being finalised but it could roll out within weeks.

Comments Federation spokesman Julian Hunt: "We think we have a better alternative that helps consumers to make sensible choices about what they eat."

The Food Standards Agency, which recommended the voluntary traffic light system in March, codes foods green, amber or red according to whether they contain low, medium or high levels of fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar.

The scheme, however, was boycotted immediately by supermarket giant Tesco and smaller rival Morrisons which opted for their own labels.

And snack maker Walkers has also announced it is to launch a low fat chips range with its own nutritional labelling.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has warned: "We are encouraging the industry to adopt the Food Standards Agency's clear system for labelling. We are prepared to act if the voluntary system does not work."

Data sourced from Brand Republic (UK); additional content by WARC staff