Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Traffic lights on food products

In other news, today the UK authorities introduced the 'voluntary traffic light scheme' for food products. This measure introduces colour coding for food products and is based on studies, which showed that consumers understand information presented on the front of processed food packaging the best. This scheme shows which of the key nutrients of fat, saturated fats, sugars, salt are high (red colour), medium (yellow colour) or low (green colour). The BEUC applauds this initiative and encourages other European markets to join it. (Good news: Pepsi, Mars and Nestlé throw their weight behind new food labelling scheme) However, while certain big food producers like PepsiCo, Mars and Nestlé participate in this scheme (more than 60% of the food market participates in the measure), others like Coca-Cola, Kellogg and Dairy Crest reject the idea. (Major brands shun Gov't traffic light labelling scheme) While this system appears to appeal to consumers by giving them both visual information about food ingredients, as well as nutritional data, some companies worry that it may 'demonise' certain natural products by giving them a red light, e.g., fruit juices which are rich in sugar. Additionally, companies complain about the need to adjust their labelling specifically for the UK market (which could be easily remedied by introducing this measure Europe-wide). Another argument raised by companies such as Coca-Cola is that they are in compliant with the European norms of how to inform consumers about nutrients. Again, this could be solved by introducing such traffic lights on food products across Europe. It remains to be seen how effective this scheme will be, if major food producers refuse to comply with it.

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