Mr Kipling exceedingly upset at 'traffic light' food labels

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The Independent Online

The chief executive of RHM, the company behind the blighted Mr Kipling cake brand, hit out at the Government-backed "traffic light" system of food labelling yesterday for being too simplistic.

The food group, which makes Hovis bread and Bisto gravy granules, has shunned the red, amber and green guide to healthy eating backed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in favour of labels showing the guideline daily amount (GDA) of calories, fats and sugars in its products.

Ian McMahon, the chief executive, said: "I don't think you can simply classify products as red meaning bad or green meaning good."

He admitted that using the scheme could put the company's troubled cake business under further pressure, as their labels would include more reds than greens.

The FSA has clashed with Tesco and Wm Morrison, which have opted to use GDA labelling instead of traffic lights.

Mr McMahon's comments came as RHM unveiled its maiden set of results as a quoted company in a year that was marred by a slump in cake profits. Branded cake sales fell 7.7 per cent during the 12 months to 29 April as customers fretted more about their waistlines. Operating profits within the division fell 28 per cent to £13.7m.

RHM responded by taking out all the artificial flavouring and colours in Mr Kipling cakes and launching a line with 30 per cent less sugar and fat.

A rise in Hovis, Bisto and Granary sales helped offset the cake decline.