Traffic light colour coding in UK

The British Department of Health, after 3 month UK-wide consultation, has invited mass market retailers to adopt this type of nutrition labeling in the first half of 2013.

Here you can find the system description, directly from the UK National Health Service (NHS) website:

“Traffic light colour coding

Some front of pack nutrition labels use red, amber and green (traffic light) colour coding.

Traffic light colour coding, as shown in the image above, tells you at a glance if the food has high, medium or low amounts of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt.

  • red means high
  • amber means medium
  • green means low

In short, the more green lights, the healthier the choice.

If you buy a food that has all or mostly green lights, you know straight away that it’s a healthier choice. An amber light means neither high nor low, so you can eat foods with all or mostly amber lights most of the time. But a red light means the food is high in fat, saturated fat, salt or sugars and these are the foods we should cut down on. Try to eat these foods less often and in small amounts.”

It is important to stress that this will be a hybrid system, because the traffic lights shall be accompanied by the %GDA (Guideline daily amount), as shown in the image above. Anyway there are many discussions about using this labeling system.

Maybe it is more immediate for consumers, but not always the red light means that a food is not healthy: it also depends on the mode of consumption of the food, the amounts and the individual nutritional needs.

Up to now, many types of nutrition labeling have co-existed in UK. The Government’s attempt is to unify the nutrition labeling, in order to avoid further confusion among consumers.

Here you can find some samples of companies which were using different types of traffic light label, directly from Food Standard Agency website:


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