New hybrid system for food labelling – in quotes

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Traffic light labelling, Nutrition

Sainsbury's new traffic light system was launched by ceo Justin King
Sainsbury's new traffic light system was launched by ceo Justin King
The government’s plans to launch a hybrid front-of-pack labelling system will help consumers make more informed, healthier choices about food purchases, claims health minister Anna Soubry. But others believe the plan will damage the food industry. Here, we provide a snapshot of the different views about the Department of Health’s controversial plan.

Anna Soubry​, public health minister:

“The UK already has the largest number of products with front-of-pack labels in Europe but research has shown that consumers get confused by the wide variety of labels used. By having a consistent system we will all be able to see at a glance what is in our food. This will help us all choose healthier options and control our calorie intake.

“Obesity and poor diet cost the NHS billions of pounds every year. Making small changes to our diet can have a big impact on our health and could stop us getting serious illnesses – such as heart disease – later in life.”


Jan Jarvis​, corporate affairs director, Asda:

“People take only up to 10 seconds to decide what it is they are putting in their shopping basket. We did some quick research to test that once more and found that 82% of our consumers said that it would make it easier for them to choose the healthy food option if traffic light labelling was the same across branded and own-label food products.”

“There are concerns that having a red light on a product will demonise it.”


Peter Hollins​, chief executive, British Heart Foundation:

“This is a quantum leap for public health and the result of tireless work by health campaigners and positive action by our governments.

“It’s now down to each and every retailer and manufacturer to step up and introduce these consistent front of pack food labels, including traffic light colours, so shoppers can make healthy food choices at a glance.” 


Clare Cheney​, director general, Provision Trade Federation:

“These labels mean that people will see foods like cheese as having no nutritional benefits at all. Cheese will be painted with the same brush as indulgent foods, that you should only have on a rare occasion. You can eat cheese everyday and be fine.

“Traffic lights will not help an individual achieve a healthy diet. People are going to avoid saturated fat, this is wrong; saturated fats are essential in life. If people avoid red lights, what this is going to do is lead to a lack of balanced diets.”


Charlie Powell​, director of campaigns at Sustain:

“They are a great educational tool for both adults and children. You can look into your basket and see in clear colours how healthy your shopping is. It is not about demonising certain foods by marking them as red, it is about providing shoppers with as much help as possible to eat healthily.”


Richard Dodd​, head of media and campaigns, British Retail Consortium:

“It has been clear that our members have changed their position over time. They have been lining up behind the hybrid scheme, this is something they have done as part of an understanding of consumers' needs.”


Richard Loyd​, Which?:

“It has taken a decade to get here. We have been campaigning for this since 2004. It will help people make informed choices but, of course, it’s not a silver bullet. It will be a big step forward if we can get retailers and manufacturers on board − and I think it will be a big stretch for manufacturers.

"Manufacturers would be encouraged to reformulate their foods and that will be a step forward in helping to reduce obesity.”


Katharine Jenner, ​campaign director, Consensus Action on Salt and Health:

“CASH wants to see salt intakes come down to below the recommended 6g a day, to reduce the number of people suffering from strokes, heart attacks or heart disease.  Until salt levels come down across the whole of the food industry, clear labelling is the only practical solution for people to take responsibility for their health.  As such, we have long campaigned for the introduction of a single front of pack nutrition labelling scheme in the UK and are thrilled with the outcome of today’s consultation. 

“It is vital that the scheme is rolled out not just in the big retailers, but across all food brands, on food eaten both in and out of the home.  Any food manufacturer that now fails to improve their labelling is acting irresponsibly and is putting the public’s health at risk.”

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Diets plans

Posted by High in fat,

I'm on day seven of this new diet regime and it's really feel terrific!

I lost 14 pounds in 10 days. The very first couple of days are somewhat tough to stick to.

But but by day four, you are going to feel awesome, and by day 11 you'll be 10 pounds lighter. See

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Consumer responsibility

Posted by Mr Ling,

What is really required is a change in the public’s perception that food should be quick to choose (and cheap to produce).

Simplistic labelling will lead consumers to believe that the nutrients on front-of-pack are all that is important. It is not and it is a short lived false panacea.

Consumers should take more responsibility and time in choosing what they eat; after all it’s their bodies and life.

Failure to eat and live healthily should carry a personal cost not one covered by the National Health Service. Until this message is learnt, spoon feeding consumers, who only take a few seconds to consider what they eat, will have only short-term and limited effects.

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