CASH comment – Tesco finally commits to improving their food labels

22nd August 2012

We are very pleased that Tesco will finally be changing their front of pack labelling to a hybrid model combining traffic light colours with guideline daily amounts. This is fantastic news for consumers, as it means the majority of the UK supermarkets will be soon using traffic light colours, making healthier choices easier.

“We are aiming to reduce population average salt intakes to below 6g a day, a target we are still a long way from reaching” says Professor Graham MacGregor of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine. “Absurdly, there are currently at least 6 different ways of labelling salt .  Whilst so much salt is still hidden in everyday foods such as bread, processed meats, cheese and ready-prepared sauces, the only way customers can try and eat less than 6g salt a day is by being able to read the labels and choose lower salt options.”

In response to the news, Andrew Lansley has been quoted as saying; “working with industry, not against them, can quickly bring about changes to benefit our health”.  However in this case, due to a complete lack of direction from the government, labelling has been in chaos for years causing great confusion for those looking to improve their health.  Tesco have at last taken matters into their own hands and decided to improve their labelling.  

“This is great news for all shoppers who are looking after their and their family’s health.”  Katharine Jenner, Campaign Director for CASH. “It’s about time Tesco’s acknowledged their responsibility to public health and improved their labelling, let’s just hope it is ‘every little helps’ and not ‘too little, too late’.”

We now urge the government to take a strong stance in their approach to labelling, and get ALL food manufacturers, including those that sell food in restaurants, fast food outlets and canteens, to include traffic light labelling on their products.

CASH have campaigned for over five years for the introduction of a single front of pack nutrition labelling scheme which includes traffic light colour coding.  However up until now, despite the wealth of evidence that traffic lights best meets the needs of consumers , Tesco have steadfastly refused to adopt this approach.  Tesco recently met with ourselves and a number of health NGOs (The British Heart Foundation, Diabetes UK, The National Heart Forum, The Children’s Food Campaign) and were urged to change their position.   This announcement is therefore strongly welcomed by CASH.