Plans for new food labelling to combat UK obesity are dealt blow as Cadbury and Coca-Cola reject 'traffic light' system

All major UK supermarkets have already signed up to the voluntary food labelling scheme

Plans to tackle UK obesity by introducing a standardised traffic-light food labelling system have been dealt a blow after Cadbury and Coca-Cola failed to sign up to the scheme.

All the major supermarkets have registered for the program, which was launched by Public Health Minister Anna Soubry earlier today, but the fact retailers and manufacturers have to voluntarily sign-up means only around 60 per cent of food products are likely to carry the labelling.

In issuing statements that they preferred the Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) system which is currently in place, Cadbury and Coca-Cola are thought to be the first major retailers to publically reject the new system.

The label combines traffic light colour-coding and nutritional information in the new form of “Reference Intakes” in place of GDAs to show how much of the maximum daily intake of fat, saturated fat, salt, sugar and calories is in a 100g portion.

All the major supermarkets - Sainsbury's, Asda, Morrisons, the Co-operative, Waitrose and Tesco - have announced that they will use the label on their products, alongside Mars UK, Nestle UK, PepsiCo UK, Premier Foods and McCain Foods.

It follows research that found consumers are confused when more than one scheme is used, which in turn reduces their ability and inclination to use the information.

Health problems associated with being overweight or obese cost the NHS more than £5 billion pounds a year.

A 2011 report found that 61 per cent of the adult population in England is overweight or obese - higher than almost all other developed countries.

It also found one third of 10 to 11 year olds and almost a quarter of four to five year olds are overweight or obese.

Public Health Minister Anna Soubry said: “The UK 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.

”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.”

Consumer and health groups including Which? and the British Heart Foundation welcomed the scheme, and called on more food manufacturers to sign up.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “For years Which? has been calling for food companies to use traffic light labels so we welcome this big step forward towards making it easier for consumers to make healthy choices.

“With levels of obesity and diet-related disease on the increase, it's vitally important that people know what is in their food, and this labelling scheme will encourage food companies to do more to reduce the amount of sugar, salt and fat in popular products.

“We hope that more food manufacturers will join the scheme so that their labels will be consistent and comparable to those on the front of the retailers' own packs.”

British Heart Foundation chief executive Simon Gillespie said: “This is undeniably a first-class scheme that will make it easier for shoppers to scan the shelves and make more informed choices about what's going in their trolley.

“High levels of diet-related chronic diseases in the UK, including heart disease, mean it's essential we have clear and consistent food labelling so people can make healthy choices.

“We're delighted all the major supermarkets are committed to the scheme and look forward to more food manufacturers signing up.”

The Department of Health said the businesses that had signed up to using the new label to date accounted for more than 60 per cent of the food that is sold in the UK.

Shadow public health minister Diane Abbott said: “It is welcome news the Government is joining Labour and health groups' campaign for this to happen. Any companies that refuse to do their bit must be named and shamed.

“But there is also a danger that this step forward may evaporate once the spotlight has moved on, because the Government is so reliant on these voluntary agreements.

'Clear, simple, consistent front-of-pack nutrition labelling has an important role to play in making it easier for people to eat healthily but it is no good doing this in isolation. It has got to be part of a wider Government strategy to tackle obesity and diet-related disease.

'Labour is leading the fight for protections against junk food marketing, for limits on sugar, fat and salt content in food, for our children to be able to have healthy lunches at schools and for children to learn about cooking and food.“

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links