National Heart Forum responds to Department of Health’s food labelling announcement

Statement from National Heart Forum

Issued: 25 October 2012


Responding to the Department of Health's announcement that it will promote a national front of pack food labelling scheme incorporating traffic light colour coding Jane Landon, deputy chief executive of the National Heart Forum commented:

“This announcement marks real progress towards a universal system of clear, consistent nutritional labelling to help UK consumers know what is in the food they are buying.  Fully adopted, it will also provide a major stimulus to food companies to reformulate products and improve the nutritional quality of products available.”


She cautioned that differences within the food industry could still impede progress.  “It will be critically important that the next stage – to agree the detail of the proposed system – is conducted transparently, and that the criteria on which the colour coding is based are scientifically robust and meaningful. Any watering down of the ‘traffic light’ criteria developed by the Food Standards Agency would signal a lack of commitment by food companies. Public health advocates around the world are watching with keen interest what will be agreed in the UK and that places a significant responsibility on the Government and how it leads this process.”



  1. The announcement was made the Department of Health on 24 October. http://mediacentre.dh.gov.uk/2012/10/24/hybrid-system-for-food-labelling-given-green-light/
  2. The National Heart Forum (NHF) is a charitable alliance of professional and public interest organisations working to reduce the risk of avoidable chronic diseases by developing evidence-based public health policy and supporting its implementation through advocacy and information provision.  The NHF has advocated for a traffic light based nutritional labelling scheme since the 1980s. In a report published in 2007, it highlighted the problems with nutritional labels using only Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) http://www.heartforum.org.uk/resources/nhf-publications/?entryid43=21063&q=0~misconceptions~&catid=0
  3. The Food Standards Agency agreed guidelines including nutritional criteria for a front of pack nutritional labelling scheme with ‘traffic lights’ colours in 2006.