Food and Behaviour Research

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27 February 2007 - Food Labelling - Just Who Is It For?

Voice of the mums to silence the critics of traffic light labelling: Mums prefer traffic light labelling on foods to current GDA labels

Web URL: Visit has taken the lead in finding out what mums really think about food labelling: Traffic light or GDA?

The results from the Netmums survey, of over 17,000 mums, prove undisputedly that mums prefer the traffic light labelling system as the easiest way to choose healthier foods at a glance.

Netmums say:

There is widespread agreement that front of pack food labelling has been introduced for the health and wellbeing of their customers. Who are the biggest customers for the supermarkets and food industry? Us Mums! So we decided to give the industry the view from the ground.

We asked 17,000 mums for their views via an online survey on Netmums in the week 29th January 07 to 7th February 07 and the results are overwhelmingly clear.

79% preferred the Traffic Light scheme over the GDA scheme.

Those that preferred the traffic light scheme did so because it was quick and easy to use. Many parents commented that with limited time to concentrate on food labelling the simplicity of the Traffic Light scheme made it more workable.
There was a similar preference for the traffic light scheme (76%) amongst Tesco shoppers despite being exposed to the GDA scheme.

Over 96% of respondents said they would be using the front of pack labelling sometimes or often in order to make healthier choices for their families.

See the full results at the Netmums website

Cathy Court, Director of Food and Nutrition for Netmums, said "When you're rushing through the supermarket with a baby who's starting to grumble, a toddler who wants to play with the eggs and an older child using the trolley as a go-kart, you need simple, 'at-a-glance' labelling. Our survey shows that the red, amber, green colours adopted by the FSA and supermarkets like Sainsbury's are easier to use, than having to understand the percentages on packets that you will find in Tesco.

"In order to have the biggest impact on the nation's health, we need one scheme in operation in all shops.

"We have today sent a full copy of our findings to all stakeholders in the food labelling debate and we hope that the retailers and manufacturers will take this information on board."

The lack of a united approach towards labelling has caused widespread confusion amongst shoppers; Tesco and many food manufacturers have gone head to head with the Food Standards Agency's recommended Traffic Light labelling system by using a different food labelling schemes based on Guideline Daily Amount percentages.

Futher information:

Netmums is a parenting network with 260,000 members across the UK.
1. Netmums has been campaigning for change from the food industry since 2003, and is a member the Children's Food Campaign. Read the results of the 2004 research here and the petition that preceded it which included many 100's of comments.
2. Netmums can provide case studies as well as an informed voice on the parent's view.