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Plan to tackle obesity

23rd January 2008

The food industry has been told that the key to tackling obesity is a single food labelling system.

At present, retailers and food producers use different systems ranging from traffic light codes to guideline daily amounts.

However, the Food Standards Agency is in favour of a traffic light system which uses red, amber and green labels to signify whether the food is good for you.

The government has announced an anti-obesity strategy for England which includes a uniform approach to food labelling. It wants the sector to abide by the findings of the independent expert panel which is currently looking into the issue.

However, retailers such as Tesco and Asda have said they are not prepared to abide by the panel findings. Meanwhile consumer groups fear the daily guideline warning for sugar, salt and far content are often too complicated.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson said the UK was probably ahead of the world in food labelling.

But he added: ‚ÄúThe problem is there are three systems. We are saying we want to work with the industry and have an independent review by experts to see which of these three systems is the most effective. Then we hope that we can convince the industry to go for one system.‚Ä?

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said the traffic light system was too simplistic.

The government believes that obesity was ‚Äúprobably the biggest public health threat that we face‚Ä? with nearly a quarter of adults and 10% of children in the UK obese after sharp increases in the last decade.

 

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