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Jeremy Laurance: 'Traffic light' system would have helped us

People don't like being told what to do. They want to be given the information so they can make choices for themselves. But this terrifies the food industry.

For the beleaguered shopper in the supermarket, making choices is not easy. Does "90 per cent fat-free" mean high or low in fat? How will this cereal "protect the heart"?

The European Commission promised to bring order to the high street and help shoppers to fill their baskets with healthy choices in the face of growing rates of obesity, diabetes and cancer. A simple colour-coded traffic light system – red for high fat, sugar or salt, yellow for medium, green for low – would have been the simplest, clearest way to assist them. Instead labels will be crammed with information on "Guideline Daily Amounts" which no one will read. The food lobby has scored a famous victory – and we consumers will be the losers.