Articles

THE ONGOING NUTRITIONAL LABELLING DEBATE


Much as been written recently about the various nutritional labelling schemes that manufacturers are using, and the debate looks likely for some time.

There are two main approaches being used. Firstly, there is the Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) scheme, which many major food manufacturers are putting on pack - Nestle, Kraft and Kellogg's included.

These tell the customer the amount of fat, salt, calories and sugar in a typical serving, together with a percentage figure of their GDS.

The second scheme is the Food Standards Agency's traffic light scheme. This gives information on the amount of fat, salt, calories and sugar per 100g, as well as a red, amber or green colour based on whether this is considered high, medium or low.

The traffic light scheme was the option was trialled at Tesco and decided not to use. At first glance, when they saw the scheme on one product, customers liked it - they found it simple.

CUSTOMER CONFUSION

However, once they saw the system on more products they changed their mind. They found the scheme too simplistic and not helpful in differentiating between similar products.

A full-fat biscuit, for example, gets four out of five red lights, while a half fat biscuit also gets four out of five red lights. The "per 100g" measurement was confusing - customers have little appreciation of what 100g looks like.

The red colour was also difficult to understand: customers thought it meant "stop" or "don't eat", whereas it is supposed to mean "eat in moderation".

Once of the fundamental ideas behind nutritional labelling is to help customers make healthy choices. But if a reduced fat product appears the same as a full fat product, customers are unlikely to make the right choice.

At Tesco, they have chosen to implement the GDA scheme for one simple reason - it's better for customers. It provides information in a simple, upfront way and helps them make informed choices.

There is no hiding that some products are high in fat, sugar or calories and this information will be clearly displayed on the front of the pack.

Tesco have stated that they have made a commitment to label all Tesco branded food with GDA by the end of the year.

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