The UK’s Food Standards Agency has launched a national advertising campaign to raise consumer awareness of  its traffic light nutritional labelling scheme.

The agency has launched television ads to be aired on national, satellite and Welsh-language channels.

The FSA and food industry have entered into a war of words over the issue of nutritional labelling, with the FSA supporting front of pack traffic light labels giving foods a red, amber or green light depending on their nutrient and fat content. Major food industry players have criticised the scheme as oversimplifying the issue, instead supporting labelling based on guideline daily amounts (GDAs).

However, the FSA maintains that the traffic lights system provides honest, easily understood advice on which foods contain a high, medium or low amount of saturated fats, sugar and salt.

FSA chair Deirdre Hutton said: “Most manufacturers and retailers are now using front-of-pack nutritional labelling and this is good news. Some shoppers find extra GDA information useful – and all industry needs to do is add traffic light colours to their GDA schemes to ensure the consumer gets the best of both worlds.

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“Our extensive and published research demonstrates that the use of traffic light colours is key to helping people interpret nutritional information on foods. We want to highlight to shoppers that these labels are now out there and really can help us all to make healthier choices.”