The UK's Food Standards Agency today (Friday) launched a consultation on the next stage of the development of a signposting scheme for food labels.

The first stage of signposting research, published in November 2004, showed that the majority of people strongly believe that a front-of-pack labelling scheme will make it easier for them to make healthier food choices when shopping and eating, it said.

This initial consumer research also showed a preference for one of two options, the 'Simple Traffic Light' and the 'Multiple Traffic Light'. At a stakeholder meeting it was suggested that a third option, based on the contribution a serving of the food makes to the Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) for key nutrients, should also be considered further.

The proposed methodology for the quantitative research is launched for a four-week consultation today.

"We know people believe that a front of pack labelling scheme would make it easier to make healthy food choices," said Rosemary Hignett, FSA head of nutrition. "We need to ensure that we create a scheme that provides people with information in a format that will make it quick and easy for them to make informed choices. We are now consulting on the methodology for the final phase of consumer research to find out which scheme really helps consumers to make healthier choices."

The final stage of consultation will look at a simple traffic light: providing an overall (colour coded) rating for the food as a whole, with descriptive wording, multiple traffic lights: with a separate high, medium or low rating (and corresponding green, amber or red colour coding) for each of fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar and a GDA-based concept with colour coding: indicating the amount of fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar provided per serving, together with the GDA for each nutrient; accompanied by colours to indicate whether the content of each nutrient in the food is high, medium or low