Mars and Nestlé adopt UK traffic light labels; Mondelez opts out

By Oliver Nieburg contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

UK hybrid traffic light labels show fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar, and calories front of pack
UK hybrid traffic light labels show fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar, and calories front of pack
The UK's largest confectionery company, Mondelez International-owned Cadbury, has decided against signing up to the UK’s hybrid front of pack nutritional label as competitors Mars and Nestlé adopt the tags.

The UK’s Public Health Minister Anna Soubry today launched a traffic light labeling system for nutritional information to show how much fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar, and calories are in food products in five guideline daily amounts (GDA ) icons.

Nestlé Confectionery has signed up to the system for all multipacks, sharing bags and chocolate blocks, but confectionery singles will not carry the five GDA icons.

Mars UK meanwhile has agreed to use the labels without provisos across its entire product range.

However, Mondelez International was among a list of other major firms including United Biscuits, Coca Cola, Kellogg and Dairy Crest to shun the the new system.

"Mondelēz International has been providing UK consumers with clear nutritional information on the front of pack since 2006 – in fact we were a pioneer of the current GDA labelling scheme,"​ said the company in a statement.

"We will continue to give consumers the information they need to make informed choices about the food they eat. We have seen the new scheme proposed by the government and are currently reviewing the details."

Nestlé and Mars using GDAs prior to initiative

Nestlé UK & Ireland said in a statement that it had already been using an “at-a-glance color coding system”​ since introducing GDA labels in 2006.

“Nestlé UK & Ireland has supported the Government’s Public Health Responsibility Deal since its launch in 2011 and is a signatory to all the relevant Food Pledges.  We recognize that the new labeling scheme is an important Pledge in the Responsibility Deal, and central to the public health agenda of the Department of Health and a broad alliance of health organizations and other stakeholders in the UK.”

In 2008, Mars implement Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) on the front of all of its chocolate, non-chocolate confectionery and other food products in the US. It has since implemented its ‘What’s Inside’ labels on all confectionery items globally which shows calorie content in green.

A recent study​ found that consumers think confectionery using green nutrition labels are healthier than those with red or transparent labels containing the same calories.

US labeling initiatives

In the US, the National Confectionery Association (NCA)​  of the United States launched a voluntary program called “Treat Right” to put calories on the front of packs.

Hershey and Jelly Belly have signed up to the initiative which uses the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) model that includes calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar.

Mondelez International has yet to decide whether to sign up to the program.

Australia’s star system

Australia this week adopted a voluntary star labeling system, which it favored over the traffic lights design.

The system features a star rating scale from ½ to 5 stars front-of-pack, with more stars indicating better nutrition. It also includes nutrient information icons for energy (kilojoules), saturated fat, sodium (salt), sugars and can include one positive nutrient such as calcium or fiber.

The move was broadly welcomed by the Australian Industry Group, whose members include Ferrero, Mars and Mondelez.

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