UK Premier Calls for Unified Foods Labelling System

08 January 2008

LONDON: In an address to health professionals at King's College London on Monday, British prime minister Gordon Brown made an unprecedented intervention in the ongoing conflct between the nation's two opposing food labelling systems.

One system, backed by the government's Food Standards Agency, grades the nutritional content of packaged foods via a so-called 'traffic lights' labelling scheme. It is supported by two of the UK's Big Four supermarket chains - Asda and Sainsbury - although not by the trade's dominant force, Tesco.

The other, less specific, system which labels foods with so-called Guideline Daily Amounts, is much more to the taste of global packaged goods titans such as Kellogg's, PepsiCo and Mars.

Brown, in folksy son of the manse mode, told the seminar:: "Parents tell me of their frustrations with the different food labelling they find on shelves when trying to make decisions on what their family eats.

"We are reviewing the multiple labelling systems currently in use and I want to see consensus on a single labelling system, easily understood by consumers, which will deliver real improvements in the health of the country.'

The prime minister also addressed concerns about the digital marketing of such foods to children.

"Because we know parents are concerned about excessive food advertising online or via mobile phones, James Purnell [the culture, media and sport secretary] will be working with the industry to make sure the codes of practice are as tough as parents want them to be."

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