UK food producers, grocers sign up to healthy label scheme

LONDON (REUTERS) - Britain's major food manufacturers and retailers have agreed to follow the same system of nutritional labelling as part of a government initiative to tackle obesity and poor diet and ease the financial burden on health services.

The United Kingdom's (UK) Department of Health said on Wednesday labels would combine both traffic light colour-coding and nutritional information on how much fat, saturated fat, salt, sugar and calories are in food products.

Major retailers in the past used different systems of labelling which health campaigners said led to confusion and mixed messages.

With obesity and poor diet costing Britain's national health service (NHS) billions of pounds every year the government wants consumers to better understand the levels of nutrients in packaged food.

Mars UK, Nestle UK, PepsiCo UK and Premier Foods along with major grocers, including market leader Tesco, Wal-Mart's Asda, J Sainsbury and Wm Morrison, have all agreed to use the consistent label.

Businesses already signed up to using the new label account for more than 60 per cent of the food that is sold in Britain.

"By having all major retailers and manufacturers signed up to the consistent label, we will all be able to see at a glance what is in our food," said public health minister Anna Soubry.