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Food labelling campaign

A new initiative from food and drink makers aims to make nutritional labels transparent
Several of the UK's largest food makers have joined forces to launch a £4m advertsing campaign for food labels.

It is just one strand in an 18-month campaign to help the government meet the pledges it made in the Choosing Health White Paper 2004 and enable consumers to make better-informed decisions about the food they eat.

Know What's Going on Inside You, a TV, online and print campaign, which will run from January to August, tells customers how to use guideline daily amounts (GDA) labels to assess how much sugar, fat, salts, saturates and calories are suggested for a balanced diet.

To conincide with this, 21 food and drink companies and three major retailers have added GDA labels to over 10,000 product lines; almost 40 per cent of all UK retail food and drink packs.

The new labelling system will show shoppers GDAs percentages of sugar, salt and fat, and the calorie content in each serving. This isn't just about a label, it's about a lifestyle, said Jane Holdsworth, food industry GDA campaigner.

We have made it simple to compare what's inside thousands of everyday foods so you can choose what best suits your diet. With this power, you can make some simple, effective and healthy decisions about how you eat, she added.

Those behind the GDA campaign, which is supported by a coalition of the UK's biggest food and drink makers, as well as Tesco, Somerfield and Morrison, say the percentages will be easier for consumers to understand than the traffic light system already in place and developed by the Food Standards Authority (FSA).

The launch of the GDA system this month is likely to spark a battle between supporters of the new approach and those using the FSA's traffic light system, who believe GDA labelling is flawed, as many adults do not understand percentages.

Figures from the FSA suggest that while some customers do like the information GDAs provide, without a traffic light colour code, our research showed that people can't always interpret the information quickly and often find percentages difficult to understand and use.

The FSA has suggested that using both GDAs and traffic light codes could help to minimise confusion.

Diabetes UK has added its backing to the traffic light system which it says is the quickest and easiest way for shoppers to know what the food contains.

17th January 2007

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