Blog: Traffic lights - whether you want them or not

Catherine Sleep | 18 May 2005

When 48% of British adults told research company Mintel that they were “fed up with being told what to eat by ‘do-gooders’ on healthy eating campaigns”, officialdom was apparently not listening.

The Food Standards Agency today announced a massive research project to find out whether consumers would prefer to be told about whether a food is ‘healthy’ by single or multiple traffic light signals, or colour or monochrome codes for guideline daily amounts.

According to FSA director of consumer choice and dietary health Gill Fine, “Consumers want the healthy choice to be the easy choice, one that makes sense for them and their families.” That would appear to be government-speak for: “These people are too stupid to read labels, so we have to put pictures aimed at a five-year-old on the packaging.”

A large section of consumers, according to Mintel’s research, simply aren’t interested in what the government thinks about their diet. They don’t want to be lectured on food by condescending officialdom. Their view is that they are adults who can make their own minds up about what to eat.

The agency will be interviewing 2,600 people to find out what concept they prefer. "Go away and stop bothering me” will presumably not be an option. And of course there will be no choice about whether we, as taxpayers, pay for it.

Chris Lyddon

News Editor, 

FSA announces labelling research project


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