Consistent front-of-pack labelling helps people make informed and healthy choices . Research shows the ‘hybrid label’; colour-coded labels (‘traffic lights’) alongside percentage Reference Intakes, is one of the most effective ways to communicate nutrition information to all societal groups.
The Department of Health have recommended UK manufacturers use the hybrid scheme since 2013, and Food Information Regulations (FIR) will be EU food law as of this December. As the recommendations are voluntary, take-up is inconsistent, leaving customers in the dark. Much more needs to be done to promote and encourage all manufacturers to implement the scheme, for example, by making the labelling scheme mandatory, or by encouraging retailers to only stock compliant manufacturers.
Only universal drive by government and a consistent use of the scheme across all food producers and retailers will enable customers to make a healthy choice. An additional benefit to colour-coded labelling is that, as manufacturers want their products to be seen in the best possible light, they are more likely to reformulate products that would otherwise receive a ‘red’ label. As thousands of food and drink products are reformulated and relabelled every year; universal labelling would have a huge impact on our diet.
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