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Traffic lights show consumers the way.

As ASDA announces the introduction of traffic light front of pack labelling for its food products, Miranda Watson, food and health campaigner, Which?, says: "It's great news to see another major supermarket adding traffic lights to their labels as independent research shows it's the best way for consumers to identify healthier food choices at a glance."

"There's now no excuse for others who have resisted this move, such as Tesco and Morrisons, not to follow suit and help their customers access healthier food more easily."

Which? shows why the FSA traffic light scheme is more beneficial for consumers:

* It's the most helpful--Which? research shows that 97 per cent of respondents were able to correctly identify and compare levels of nutrients using the traffic light labelling scheme.

* It's simple--If you need to invest significantly in educating consumers about a labelling scheme, the scheme is obviously not simple.

* It works at a glance--The FSA's multiple traffic light scheme gives consumers, at a glance, information about whether a product is high, medium or low in fat, saturated fat, sugar or salt.

* It's been extensively researched--The FSA recommended that the food industry use multiple traffic lights on their products after extensive research looking at different schemes, including interviews with over 2,600 people, found it to be the best system.

* It helps all consumers--The FSA research, reinforced by Which? research, found that the Tesco/ Food and Drink Federation scheme was confusing for some consumers particularly those from lower socio-economic groups.

* It's already being used--Several retailers and manufacturers (Sainsbury's, ASDA, Waitrose, the Co-operative Group, M&S, McCain, Covent Garden soup, Benjys and Kettle Foods) have announced that they will use the FSA scheme.

* Multiple schemes are confusing--By developing a rival scheme to multiple traffic lights, Tesco and the FDF are adding to confusion rather than helping consumers make informed choices between different products. Which? research found that 73 per cent of people interviewed thought it would be confusing if different products carried different labels.

* Traffic lights interpret guideline daily amounts--Tesco and the FDF claim that it is helpful to have information shown as a percentage of the guideline daily amount. The Which? and FSA research show that consumers value traffic light colour coding as a way of interpreting what the levels shown mean, e.g. is 20 per cent of your GDA for salt high, medium or low?

* It has EU-wide support--a BEUC, the European Consumer Organisation, review of European research found that an interpretative element, such as the use of colour coding to indicate nutrient levels, is the most helpful approach for consumers.

* It's transparent--Which? wants Tesco and the other manufacturers promoting an alternative scheme to base their system on what the research shows works best for consumers, not what works best from a marketing perspective. They need to stop hiding behind GDAs and be honest about whether or not their products are high, medium or low in fat, sugar or salt.

Contact Which? on tel 01992 822800 or visit
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Title Annotation:Informalia
Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Aug 1, 2007
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