How effective is traffic light food labeling?

© Hayden Peek
© Hayden Peek

Matt Reed is working with a University of Gloucestershire research team in a study to determine to what extent consumers currently use existing front of packaging (FOP) traffic light nutrition labeling to make their food choices, or whether an alternative receipt-based summary may be a more useful tool instead.

Food labels can contain so much information that it’s often difficult to know what it all means as we hurry around the supermarket to make the family food purchases.

Some labeling, which may suggest ‘healthy’ food, is ambiguous. Some products are marked ‘reduced fat’, some ‘low fat’. Sugar is not always listed in the ingredients as ‘sugar’. This can all be confusing to the consumer.

With this in mind, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) developed a ‘traffic light’ nutrition labeling system to help consumers make healthier choices more quickly and easily.

The traffic light system is located on the FOP and allows the consumer to see, at a glance, whether foods are high (red), moderate (amber) or low (green) in fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt.

In order to carry out the research, the researchers need as many people as possible to complete their online survey.  The survey will ask you a series of questions about your shopping habits and factors that influence your food choices and only takes a few minutes to complete.

Dr Matt Cole, who is a Senior Lecturer in Sport, Exercise & Health Nutrition at the University of Gloucestershire, who is leading the project, said:

“This is an innovative approach to nutritional information on till receipts in shops. To help us carry out the research, we would like as many people as possible to take part in our online survey, which only takes a few minutes to complete. All data will remain anonymous and will only be used for research purposes.”

Complete the online survey. It will be open until 10th June.

See press release.