Spain has announced a raft of measures to tackle the nation’s obesity problem including a change to the way food is labelled.

The moves will see Spain follow in the footsteps of other European countries by adopting the Nutri-Score traffic light food labelling system.

The country’s minister of health, consumption and social welfare, Maria Luisa Carcedo, announced the news on Monday (12 November) alongside a raft of new initiatives intended to promote good nutrition and physical activity and prevent obesity. 

These include measures in schools and institutes to prevent the sale of foods and beverages with a high content of sugar, saturated and trans fatty acids, salt and calories while the advertising of unhealthy foods aimed at children under 15 will be limited through the self-regulation of advertising.

Carcedo said the Nutri-Score system will “provide citizens with more accurate information on nutritional quality”.

She added: “This information will allow citizens to compare with other similar products easily and make an informed and motivated decision to follow a healthier diet.” 

In February, the Spanish government and the country’s food industry announced plans to cut the content of sugar, salt and fat in more than 3,500 food and drink products over the next three years.

It said it would be cutting the ratios of those ingredients by around 10%, having received the voluntary commitment of more than 500 companies.

The Spanish authorities have not said when they expect the Nutri-Score scheme to be introduced in the country, nor whether it is to be mandatory or voluntary.

The system was established in France earlier this year and is also to be introduced in Belgium and Portugal. 

In September, Eroski, the Spain-based grocer, announced proposals for its suppliers of own-label products to use the Nutri-Score nutrition labels placed on-pack by some manufacturers and retailers in France and Belgium.

If the plan is endorsed by the co-operative retailer’s suppliers, the first products to use the labels will go on sale later this year, Eroski said.

The Nutri-Score code consists of a graph with gradual colouring from green to red in five levels in the style of a traffic light. Each product will highlight the colour that corresponds to it based on its content of sugars, saturated fats, salt, calories, fibre and proteins. The green colours will identify the healthiest foods and the red ones those of lower nutritional quality.