Morrisons is to adopt a hybrid front-of-pack nutritional labelling system which combines guideline daily amounts (GDAs) with traffic light colours provided an agreement can be reached by the UK food industry and Government regarding the nutritional criteria used.

The move, announced by the UK supermarket chain today (21 September), follows Tesco’s announcement that it would be adopting a hybrid system.

Tesco and Morrisons had been the only major supermarket chains supporting a system just based on GDAs, an approach also favoured by UK food manufacturers. The discount chains, Lidl and Aldi, both announced they would be adopting traffic lights earlier this month.

However, Morrisons was at pains to point out that standardisation of nutritional criteria was essential as at present products with similar nutritional profiles could have one colour in one supermarket and a different one in another.

“A system which combines GDAs and traffic lights and is based on common nutritional criteria would help customers make healthier choices,” said Morrisons director of brand development Sonia Whiteley-Guest.

But, she added: “The current traffic light system is undermined by inconsistent nutritional criteria, which is a recipe for confusion not clarity. We will work hard to reach a common set of rules which clears up the confusion and makes life easier for customers.”

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Morrisons announcement increases the pressure on frozen foods retailer Iceland to follow suit. Recently, UK consumer organisation Which? called for both Morrisons and Iceland to adopt traffic light labelling. It also further increases the pressure on UK food producers, represented by the Food & Drink Federation, to embrace traffic lights.

The UK government has recently completed a broad consultation on the issue and is widely expected to recommend the adoption of a single standardised hybrid system, though under EU food labelling regulations, it can only recommend such an approach rather than mandate it.