U.K. gives green light to nutrition labeling system

by Eric Schroeder
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LONDON — The United Kingdom’s Department of Health has launched a new front-of-pack nutritional label that the agency believes will make it easier for people to make healthier choices. The new system will feature red, amber and green color-coding and nutritional information to show how much fat, saturated fat, salt, sugar and calories are in food products.

The Department of Health said the presence of red on a product’s labeling is not meant to “demonize foods,” but rather to prompt people to consider what they are eating and make sure it is part of a balanced diet.

“The U.K. already has the largest number of products using a front-of-pack label in Europe, but we know that people get confused by the variety of labels that are used,” said Public Health Minister Anna Soubry. “Research shows that, of all the current schemes, people like this label the most and they can use the information to make healthier choices.

“We all have a responsibility to tackle the challenge of obesity, including the food industry. By having all major retailers and manufacturers signed up to the consistent label, we will all be able to see at a glance what is in our food — this is why I want to see more manufacturers signing up and using the label.”

So far, companies that have signed up to use the labels include Asda Stores Ltd., Hain Daniels Group (New Covent Garden Soup), Marks and Spencer, Mars UK, McCain Foods, Nestle UK, PepsiCo UK, Premier Foods, Sainsbury’s, and Tesco Food Stores Ltd.

One major food company that is not on board with the new system is Mondel─ôz International, which said it plans to stick with its current labeling strategy for the time being.

“Mondel─ôz International has been providing U.K. consumers with clear nutritional information on the front of pack since 2006 — in fact we were a pioneer of the current G.D.A. labeling scheme,” the company said. “We will continue to give consumers the information they need to make informed choices about the food they eat. We have seen the new scheme proposed by the government and are currently reviewing the details.”

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