UK Supermarket Giant Jumps Traffic Light Labels

27 April 2005

The UK's biggest supermarket chain, Tesco, has rejected a government 'traffic light' system for identifying healthy foods.

The company, the first British retailer to notch £2 billion ($3.8bn, €2.9bn) in profits [WAMN: 13-Apr-05], will instead roll out its own 'signposting' of nutritional information, which it believes is less confusing to consumers.

Tesco will print on its own-label products the level of salt, sugar, saturated fat and calories in grams and how this compares with the recommended daily intake.

The government claims its Food Standard Agency traffic light proposal would be welcomed by shoppers, but it is fiercely resisted by the food industry and Tesco's snub will make it more difficult to introduce.

The traffic light approach uses a simple colour code: green (meaning eat plenty); amber (in moderation) and red (sparingly).

But the retail giant says customers are unclear about the nutritional implications of 'amber' foods and the system does not relate to recommended daily consumption. It claims the Tesco signposting alternative addresses these issues, which have been brought sharply into focus by widespread concerns about UK obesity levels.

Data sourced from BBC Online; additional content by WARC staff