Food labels to combine traffic light system with supermarket’s existing daily guidance design.
A LEADING health charity has praised supermarket giant Tesco following the retailer’s decision to improve its food labelling systems by introducing a hybrid design.
Peter Hollins, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said the move to provide more information to customers about the food they are buying would contribute towards the health of the nation.
“This action by the UK’s largest supermarket will help millions of busy shoppers to make healthier eating choices and could have a real impact on people’s diets,” he said.
“We hope others will build on Tesco’s initiative and commit to working with government to introduce consistent and easy to understand food labelling – including traffic light colours – across the country.”
Tesco gave its backing to a hybrid labelling system that combines its existing Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) with the “traffic light” colour coding system in response to research carried out by Penn Schoen and Berland to inform the retailer’s response to the government’s consultation on ‘Front of Pack’ nutrition labelling.
Tesco had previously resisted the introduction of a traffic light system but it has changed its position in light of the study.
The research showed customers remain happy with GDAs and continue to favour them over traffic light colour coding which, according to Tesco, does not provide the detail customers need to make an informed decision.
However, the research also showed that customers prefer the combination of traffic light colours, which give simple at-a-glance guidance, and GDAs, which give accurate and meaningful information.
The study also said customers want a “consistent approach” to labelling across the industry and Tesco said it is committed to working with the government, NGOs, public health organisations, other retailers and its supply chain to try to achieve this.
It said “the evolution” in Tesco’s approach reflects the “changing and increasingly sophisticated demands of customers who want clear, accessible and meaningful information to enable them to make informed choices”.
Philip Clarke, Tesco’s chief executive, said: “Tesco has led the way in giving shoppers clear information about the food they eat and was the first retailer to put nutritional information on the front of our packs in 2005 when we rolled out our Guideline Daily Amount labels.
“We always listen to our customers and they have told us that by combining our popular GDA labels with traffic light colour coding we can make it even easier for them to make informed and healthy choices about the food they buy.”
He added: “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.
“We know customers are looking for a consistent approach, and intend to work with government, health bodies, other retailers and manufacturers to deliver this as soon as possible.”