Traffic Light Food Labeling

The Food Standards Agency of the UK has developed a food labeling system that is modeled after traffic lights.

A low resolution example of this system is seen on the left. I ran across this on SlashFood (brilliant weblog, that) some time ago, but have started to see this in the news more often.

Now, this is brilliant. A quick glance gives one an exact advisory as to the relative content levels of the most important health related variables in the product.

Sure — it doesn’t replace the detailed information found on a typical label, but most consumers either don’t pay attention or are incapable of interpreting that information appropriately anyway.

Reading the google news search for traffic light food labels reveals an interesting and, unfortunately, not terribly surprising history.

The food giants were totally opposed to the idea. “Too simple to be useful”. “The consumer needs more information and in percentages.”. “We will developer our own system.”. Translation: “We will create a system that is so rife with mis-marketing opportunities such that we can claim foods that will kill you are actually good for you.”

Fortunately, it appears that the “obesity epidemic” is actually tarnishing company’s reputations to the point where actually using something like the signpost labeling is turning into a viable marketing opportunity.

Now, what are the chances something like this could be deployed in the United States? Unfortunately, current climate do not indicate there is much hope.

One Response to “Traffic Light Food Labeling”

  1. Dan Wood says:

    Wow, this reminds me a lot of the system we use to help our kids understand foods, from the book Eat Healthy, Feel Great. The kids really understand the concept of “green light” (eat as much as you want), “Yellow light” (slow down) and “red light’ food….

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