Traffic Light Labelling
We are busy and we don’t have time to read food labels when we are dashing round the supermarket. But thanks to the Traffic Light labelling, we have a very simple, quick way to choose healthier food for ourselves and our loved ones. Not all supermarkets and food manufacturers use Traffic Light labelling but we know that consumers like it. The simple green, amber and red colours alert us to the healthy and less healthy foods we are putting in our basket.
Later on, on this page you’ll read more on Traffic Light labels and what the colours mean but below is a very simple guide that we hope will be helpful. All traffic light food labelling has 3 colours, red, amber and green and these 3 colours give an indication of how high or low the levels of fat, saturated fat,sugars, and salt are in food. The diagram below shows the type of label you’ll find on food and explains what you are reading or seeing.
Traffic Light labelling is very cleverly designed to give you ‘at a glance’ information about food. .
LabelWise goes one step further than supermarket labelling. You will have read above that not all supermarkets and manufacturers use the Traffic Light scheme, here at LabelWise we have created Traffic Light labelling for supermarkets and manufacturers that don’t currently use it. We have also included supermarkets and manufacturers who do already use it, for comparison. Using LabelWise you can look up food that you eat and create your very own, accurate traffic lights. Below is an example of a LabelWise label that we’ve looked up for Asda Bran Flakes.
My LabelWise Traffic Light label
Some supermarkets also combine Traffic Lights and Guideline Daily Amounts to provide even more information, research undertaken by the Food Standards Agency showed conclusively that Traffic Lights do help people make healthier choices.
You can also add in Guideline Daily Amounts
more on that later
Supermarkets that use traffic lights usually add them to the fronts of packs. So what do the symbols mean?
What do the traffic light symbols mean?
How do you use the LabelWise list?
If you want to choose a healthy diet, you need to keep foods and drinks that are high in fat, mainly saturated fat, sugar and salt to a minimum. By keeping an eye out for the colours on LabelWise list and on the front of food packs you can choose between products and keep a check on the high-fat, high-sugar and high-salt foods you eat.
Try to buy as many greens as you can and avoid choosing too many reds. This way you’ll know you’ll be making healthier choices.
Use LabelWise traffic light colours to compare products. You might be surprised how much difference there can be between foods that, on the face of it, are the same. For example if you are buying cornflakes at Tesco you will see that the sugar content is green, and at Sainsbury’s and Waitrose it is amber, this may not be clear from other labelling. You may want to shop in one supermarket, if you do, LabelWise will give you the option to compare between supermarkets own brands and other brands for example own brand Corn Flakes and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes.
And if your favourite foods get some red traffics (it’s not a bad thing to eat food with red dots every now and again, we all do it) it’s fine to have them occasionally. You can use LabelWise to find the traffic light colours to balance out the red dots with some healthy green dot options.
What do you think?
What do you think of LabelWise? How useful has it been for you? Has it changed the way you shop?
We would be really interested to know what we can do to improve LabelWise for you. Please send us your thoughts to LabelWise@nutritionandwellbeing.co.uk.
LabelWise In your pocket
You can print off your LabelWise list to take to the shops with you.
For those who want to know more about Traffic Light labelling
For those of you who would like to know more about Traffic Light labelling the Food Standards Agency have lots of information on their site. We’ve provided a link below.
Like many simple systems that are designed to provide information the Traffic Light scheme is not perfect.
- Traffic Light labels measure the nutrients (fat, sat fat, sugars and salt) as a proportion of 100g of the food. These proportions are measured against set criteria
- The results produce Traffic Lights so that we can compare food products
- We don’t necessarily eat 100g of a food product at a meal
Those who disagree with the Traffic Light labelling scheme argue that because we do not eat 100g portions that the that the scheme is inappropriate and potentially misleading. The alternative Guideline Daily Amounts Scheme has been designed by representatives from industry to over come this issue.
You can find more information on Traffic Light labelling on the government’s Eatwell website. The nutrition function of the Food Standards Agency is set to move to the Department of Health in 2010, however until the move is in place the Food Standards Agency website still carries all the relevant information.