Consultation on how to label food
Published: 13th May 2012 02:31:19
Food manufacturers, supermarkets and health experts are to be asked their views on the best way to label the nutritional content of food.
There have been long-running battles over how to label the amount of fat, sugar, salt and calories in food with several different systems in place.
The government's UK-wide consultation will take place over the next 12 weeks.
The health secretary, Andrew Lansley, said getting everyone to use the same system was "common sense".
He said this made it easier for people to make a healthier choice when they are buying food.
Some retailers and manufactures have preferred a "traffic light" system in which the least healthy foods are labelled red and the most healthy are in green.
Others use Guideline Daily Amounts - or GDAs - which give the percentage of recommended intake. Some use both.
European regulations, which were agreed at the end of last year, said nutritional information must be labelled either per portion or per 100g.
Mr Lansley told the BBC it was "not possible" for him or other health ministers to "impose a solution other than the EU solution".
However, he said he was keen to work with businesses to find a "consistent" approach which could be introduced voluntarily across the UK.
He suggested that combining both the traffic light and GDA systems could help consumers.
We're great fans of traffic lights, the simpler the better”
He said he was aiming for a system which "incorporates not only what Europe requires in terms of recommended daily allowance for calories and sugar and salt and saturated fats, but in addition to that to give a means by which consumers can look at a glance, for example, using things like colour coding."
Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the British Medical Association, told the BBC: "We're great fans of traffic lights, the simpler the better."
But she said the ideal would be to have the colour coding as well as the more detailed GDAs.
Dr Nathanson said everyone using the same system would be "enormously" helpful as people were put off by "having to adjust to a different label every time you look at a different food".
Julia Waltham, from the British Heart Foundation, said: "This isn't about telling people what should or shouldn't be in their baskets.
"The government should strongly recommend that food companies and supermarkets use a consistent food labelling scheme that includes traffic light colours. They all have a responsibility to provide a system that helps shoppers compare products and then easily pick the healthiest option if they want to."
At 14:56:55 in SportWest Brom have completed the signing of Argentine winger Sebastian Blanco for an undisclosed fee from Ukrainian side Metalist Kharkiv.
At 14:55:13 in SportStevenage have signed striker Cameron Lancaster from Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur on a free transfer.
At 14:54:12 in SportWest Ham have signed former Arsenal midfielder Alex Song on a season-long loan deal from Barcelona.
At 14:49:23 in SportDanske Bank Premiership
At 14:47:08 in WalesWork has started on the next phase of a multi-million pound hospital upgrade in Denbighshire.
At 14:41:09 in EnglandA 77-year-old woman has been run over by a lorry outside Southend fire station.
At 14:40:46 in HeadlinesIranian President Hassan Rouhani has criticised the US for new sanctions, saying they are "not compatible" with the spirit of current negotiations.
At 14:39:47 in WorldA 16-month-old baby has died in a car in Switzerland, after one of the parents forgot to drop it off at the nursery on the way to work.
At 14:25:01 in SportFor a job that involves constant travelling for much of the year, England all-rounder Natalie Sciver might be over-qualified.
At 14:11:24 in EnglandConcerns are growing for a 14-year-old girl who has been missing from her west London home for more than 48 hours.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Consultation on how to label food [Online] (Updated 13th May 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1428189/Consultation-on-how-to-label-food [Accessed 30th Aug 2014]
News In Other Categories
Members of the troubled Co-operative Group are due to meet for a final vote on reforming how the business is run.
West Brom have completed the signing of Argentine winger Sebastian Blanco for an undisclosed fee from Ukrainian side Metalist Kharkiv.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has criticised the US for new sanctions, saying they are "not compatible" with the spirit of current negotiations.
Cheer/groan (delete according to mindset): The X Factor is back. Author Jeremy Clay tells the story of the show's Victorian forebear, where the hopefuls had to sing while carrying a pig.
A 77-year-old woman has been run over by a lorry outside Southend fire station.
Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger will be switched off in China in October, marking a final end to the 15-year-old service.