Some of the foods in UK supermarket Tesco’s healthy eating range may need to be relabelled after it was found they contain high levels of salt, sugar and fat.
The traffic light labelling scheme is due to start trials in September and will use green, amber or red traffic light symbols to indicate to shoppers levels of fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar.
The scheme has been applauded as a simple way for consumers to choose healthier options. But research from the Food Commission suggests that some of the products in Tesco’s Healthy Living product range would have to carry amber or even red lights when analysed in conjunction with guidelines issued by the Food Standards Agency.
However, Tesco said it was using a different set of criteria based on dietary targets set by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy and the World Health Organisation.
Under the FSA’s guidelines, for example, the so-called ‘light’ cream cheese in the Healthy Living range has nearly twice the levels of saturated fat that lead to a red signal.
Tesco’s Healthy Living bran flakes (and also its sultana bran) would get a red signal for salt and a second red signal for sugar. And its Healthy Living sunflower spread would get three red signals: for fat, saturated fat and salt.
A Food Commission statement said today [Tuesday] that Tesco was not the only chain to have high levels of salt and fat in its “healthy” range of foods and praised it for having “the courage to propose traffic lights” on its packs.