The Department of Health has confirmed the application of a standardised system of food labelling aimed at helping consumers to make healthier eating choices.
The colour coded ‘traffic light’ system will mark fat and saturated fat, sugar, salt and calories in red, amber or green according to quantity in any particular food item.
The programme has been accepted by all of the UK’s major supermarkets and a number of important manufacturers including Nestle, Mars and PepsiCo.
The government is implementing the system as part of its campaign to reduce obesity in the UK but its effectiveness has not been universally conceded.
The system is not mandatory, although it is already voluntarily followed by some and Coca Cola, Kelloggs and Cadbury are among the big names refusing to join the programme amid concerns that consumers will be confused by the information provided.
The guidelines are based upon portion size and guideline daily amounts, which companies fear will give rise to inconsistency.
Detractors are also concerned that information could be misleading due to lack of education, with the fat labels in particular being arbitrary and leading consumers to reject items high in good, non-saturated fats as well as unhealthy items high in saturated fats.
However the government is hoping that the simplicity of the traffic light system will encourage both manufacturers and consumers alike.
The nutritional advice labels will be located on the front of packs to allow consumers to make quick choices and balance their diets.