FSA: new study should unite retailers over food labelling

Food brands will be expected to fall in line with food labelling recommendations due from the Food Standards Agency in the next two months.

The FSA says its recommendations, which the Government will use to make a “final decision on front-of-pack labelling”, will be based on an independent “scientifically robust” study it commissioned to identify the “most effective approach”.

In 2007 a coalition of retailers and manufacturers including Tesco and Morrisons split with the FSA over its existing traffic light labelling system, adopted by rivals including Sainsbury’s and Asda, and introduced a rival labelling system which they argued was easier to understand. Its system is based on the guideline daily amounts of sugar, salt, fat, saturates and calories.

An FSA spokesman says the new study should “draw an evidence-based line” under the long-running debate. “We will stand by the research finding and will encourage all in the industry to accept the conclusions of this research in the interests of consumers,” he adds.

The FSA’s new recommendations will be put out to consultation in the next two months, after which the FSA expects to put its final guidance to the Government before the end of the year.

The agency and the Government came under fire from MPs earlier this week. The Health Select Committee said it was “appalled that, four years after we first recommended it, the Government and FSA are continuing to procrastinate about the introduction of traffic-light labelling.”

It added the Government must now introduce a statutory traffic-light system for restaurants and fast-food outlets in addition to retail items.

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