Tesco and Morrisons are stalling over a consumer group-backed traffic light labelling system being introduced by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) designed to make identifying healthy foods easier in the UK.

According to the FSA, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose will be the first retailers to display red, amber and green warning signs on their processed foods to indicate high, medium or low levels of fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar, with Asda to follow shortly.

However, Tesco and Morrisons are less willing to co-operate with the new system.

Top UK retailer Tesco will keep its existing guideline daily amount (GDA) labelling, and considers the traffic lights simplistic and misleading to customers. A company statement said: “Tesco also found that red is taken by customers to mean stop or danger rather than warning or consider and could mean that people eliminate certain foods from their diet.”

Morrisons, the UK’s fourth largest retailer is currently “reviewing labelling presentation and considering various signposting options,” according to a company statement, and has two of its own label brands already.

The traffic light labels – which will be displayed on ready meals, pizzas, breakfast cereals and sandwiches at participating supermarkets – will also give information on the levels of nutrients per portion of product.

Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King said: “We support the use of a labelling system which uses traffic light colours. It is the simplest and clearest way of giving customers the information they are looking for.”