Tesco has announced plans to add traffic-light labels to the nutritional information it puts on products.

The decision, revealed today (22 August), is a major change in strategy from Tesco, which has favoured labels that show guideline daily amounts, or GDAs.

Nutritional labelling has long been a topic of fierce debate in the UK, with manufacturers, and the country’s largest retailer, Tesco, backing a GDA system, while other retailers favouring “traffic lights” or a combination approach.

The GDA approach, where each nutrient is calibrated in terms of the percentage of a recommended daily intake, is a more detailed approach though its opponents suggest that it can confuse consumers.

The traffic lights system has the advantage of clarity and simplicity but is accused by its critics of being a blunt instrument.

The UK’s largest retailer said it would use a “hybrid labelling system”, which included both GDAs and traffic lights, after “new customer research”.

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By GlobalData

“We are committed to doing what is right for our customers and therefore have decided to bring together the distinct benefits of GDAs and traffic lights,” Tesco CEO Philip Clarke said.

“We always listen to our customers and they have told us that by combining our popular GDA labels with traffic light colour coding we can make it even easier for them to make informed and healthy choices about the food they buy.”

Tesco’s move was announced days after the UK government finished consulting on ways to introduce more consistent front-of-pack labelling on food.

Clarke added: “We know customers are looking for a consistent approach, and intend to work with government, health bodies, other retailers and manufacturers to deliver this as soon as possible.”