U.K. gives green light to nutrition labeling system

June 21, 2013

The U.K. Dept. of Health has finalized the front-of-pack nutrition label, which aims to make it easier for people to make healthier choices about the food they eat. The consistent system will combine red, amber, green color-coding and nutritional information to show how much fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar, and calories are in food products.

MARS UK, Nestlé UK, PepsiCo UK, and Premier Foods have announced that they will join all the major retailers, including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, ASDA, Morrisons, the Co-operative, and Waitrose, in using the consistent label on their products. Manufacturer McCain Foods, which already uses front of pack, will be using the consistent label too. This comes after detailed discussions with the U.K. government working with the food industry, health NGOs, and other partners to agree the proposed system and what the label would look like.

“The U.K. already has the largest number of products using a front-of-pack label in Europe but we know that people get confused by the variety of labels that are used. Research shows that, of all the current schemes, people like this label the most and they can use the information to make healthier choices,” said Public Health Minister Anna Soubry.

As part of the government’s work to reduce obesity levels, the Dept. of Health is working with industry, through the Responsibility Deal, to get business taking action to reduce the amount of calories, salt, and trans fat in foods. The consistent front-of-pack label will be a new Responsibility Deal pledge that food and drink companies can sign up to and deliver. Businesses that have signed up to using the new label today already account for more than 60% of the food that is sold in the U.K. Guidance for business has been published on developing front-of-pack nutrition labels.

The new consistent label will include the information presented consistently per portion of food:

  • The amount of energy—presented in kilocalories and kilojoules—fat, saturated fat, salt, and sugar. This will be presented as Reference Intakes (RI)—formerly known as Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA)—and will show how much of the maximum daily intake a portion accounts for.
  • A consistently determined red, amber, or green color-coding system (note the basis of this is per 100 g not per portion except where the amount in a portion exceeds 30% of the RI)

Press release

Guidance doc