23 Aug 12 UK: Tesco finally introduces ‘traffic light’ food label system
Tesco, the UK’s biggest supermarket, will introduce a ‘traffic light’ food labelling system after finally bowing to pressure from shoppers.
The retailer has for years resisted using the colour-coded system on its products. The on-the-packet traffic light label grades food as red, amber or green depending on how nutritious it is, with red being the most unhealthy.
Instead, Tesco has since 2005 used a ‘guideline daily amounts’ (GDA) system which shows the percentage of salt, sugar and fat in a product but does not involve colours.
However the chain, which has annual sales of £47 billion in the UK, said that following new customer research it will now develop a “hybrid” labeling system incorporating traffic lights and GDA.
The move will bring it in line with rivals Sainsbury’s, Asda and Marks & Spencer who have used hybrid labeling for years.
Detractors have argued that a red stamp denoting a high level of salt or fat “demonises” a food and could put off shoppers.
Tesco’s move was welcomed by health and obesity charities, as well as consumer groups.
Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, said that the decision is a “significant step” towards having “clear and consistent information” across the supermarket industry.
Tesco said that its research showed that shoppers prefer the combination of traffic light colours, “which give simple at-a-glance guidance”, and GDAs, “which give accurate and meaningful information”.
Phil Clarke, Tesco’s chief executive, said: “We are committed to doing what is right for our customers and therefore have decided to bring together the distinct benefits of GDAs and traffic lights.”
A Tesco spokesman denied that the company has performed a U-turn. “The market has moved on,” he said.
Health campaigners welcomed the news as a major step forward…..