LGA: use Brexit to make traffic light food and drink labelling mandatory

Councils, which have responsibility for public health, say the traffic light system should become a legal requirement for all products once EU laws are transferred into British law after Brexit.


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Traffic light labelling on food and drink should become mandatory after Brexit, to help people make more informed choices about the food they eat, the LGA says today.

European Union legislation currently regulates food and drink labelling, meaning the UK Government can only make recommendations to industry. In 2013, the Department of Health introduced a voluntary traffic light scheme, but the LGA said they are only displayed on two thirds of products sold in the UK.

Councils, which have responsibility for public health, say the traffic light system should become a legal requirement for all products once EU laws are transferred into British law after Brexit.

The labels divide items into low, medium or high amounts of each, with the highest marked in red. This allows shoppers, at a glance, to find out how much fat, salt, sugar, saturates and calories each product contains.

Shoppers on average take 15 seconds to choose an item in a supermarket. The LGA, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, said a mandatory system would give consumers at-a-glance information that enables them to make healthy choices.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:

“The ‘traffic light’ food labelling system is clear, effective and popular with shoppers.

“While many retailers and manufacturers have different methods of displaying nutritional content, this can be confusing. As a result, shoppers are unwittingly buying products which are laden with fat, salt and sugar, which is fuelling the obesity crisis.

“Consumers need a single, standard and consistent system which should be universally adopted. It needs to be something that they can read and understand quickly and easily.”

“Any post-Brexit review of EU food laws gives the Government the opportunity to introduce legislation to standardise food labelling.

“At a time when two-thirds of adults and more than a fifth of four and five-year-olds are obese or overweight, helping people make more informed choices about what they eat will clearly also help tackle the obesity crisis we face as a nation.”

Notes

  • Childhood obesity – a plan for action
  • In England, two-thirds of adults, more than one fifth of four to five-year-old children and more than a third of 10 to 11 year olds are obese or overweight
  • Latest Public Health England data reveals 3.8 million people have diabetes, 90 per cent of which are type 2