Talks which may lead to a common system of showing
health information on food packages are being launched by the Government.
Manufacturers, retailers and nutrition experts are expected to take
part in the consultation being launched by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley on Monday. The
Government wants to see a common system to show - on the front of packs - how much fat, salt and
sugar, and how many calories are contained in products.
Mr Lansley said: "Being overweight and having an unhealthy diet can
lead to serious illnesses such as cancer and type 2 diabetes. We must do everything we can to help
people make healthier choices."
Eighty per cent of food products sold in the UK already have some
form of front-of-pack-labelling, the Department of Health (DoH) said. But different retailers and
manufacturers use different ways of labelling which could be confusing for consumers, it
Some indicate Guideline Daily Amounts, which give the percentage of
recommended intake, and others use traffic light systems or both.
The DoH cites research which shows that one clear system, used
across all products, would make it easier for consumers to compare the nutritional information
provided on the food they buy.
"Offering a single nutrition labelling system makes common sense, it
would help us all to make healthier choices and keep track of what we eat," Mr Lansley
"Making even small changes to our diet can have a major impact on
our health. Cutting our average salt intake by 1.6 grams a day would prevent over 10,000 premature
deaths a year.
"Initiatives like the Responsibility Deal are already showing what
can be achieved if we work in partnership with industry. For example, customers who buy 70% of fast
food and takeaways sold on the high street can see from the menu how many calories are in their
meals and half the high street has committed to cutting salt in household
The Department of Health said the 12-week consultation will be
an opportunity for all interested parties to give their view on what a consistent, clear front of
pack label should look like and how to make the scheme a reality.