MPs green-light traffic signal labels but industry puts the brakes on

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

Pressure grows for legislation to tackle rising levels of obesity

MPs have called for the government to introduce a ?traffic light"'system of labelling on energy-dense foods which are high in sugar and fat.

In its report on obesity, the House of Commons health committee called for the introduction of legislation which would force manufacturers to label products based on criteria devised by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Under the traffic light system, high energy density foods would carry a red label, foods with medium energy density an amber label and products low in energy a green label. "This will make it easier for consumers to make choices and will act as an incentive for the food industry to re-examine the content of its foods," said MPs.

The committee dismissed food industry claims that there were no such things as healthy or unhealthy foods, only healthy and unhealthy diets.

Dierdre Hutton, chairman of the National Consumer Council, said: "[The industry] can't go on adding vitamins and minerals to food while denying there are no such things as bad foods."

FSA chairman Sir John Krebs welcomed the traffic light proposal and said research showed the public also in favour. Yet many in the industry say it would not address the wider issue of obesity.

Martin Glenn, president of PepsiCo UK and Ireland, said: "If you make an issue out of individual foods and not diets it is too simplistic. I'd be nervous about it."

Professor Robert Pickard, director general of the British Nutrition Foundation, agreed. "What is good for one person may not be good for another. The concept sounds attractive but tends to work at extremes of the spectrum and becomes less useful as a discriminatory tool."

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