Traffic light labels are the Food Standard Agency-approved labelling system designed to show consumers, at-a-glance the nutritional content of food products so that they can make healthier choices.
The system uses a red, amber or green symbol to show whether a product contains a high, medium or low amount of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt.
- Green is used to show the food is low in that nutrient;
- Amber signals that the product contains medium levels of that nutrient; and
- Red represents high amounts and warns shoppers not to consume too much.
In addition to traffic light colours, a traffic light label also informs shoppers of the amount of fat, saturates, salt and sugars, per serving or per pack.
Some producers and supermarkets also include calories, although these are not colour-coded as they are not part of the Food Standard Agency’s scheme.
Many foods have a mixture of traffic light colours, but shoppers looking for a healthier diet are advised to go for products with more greens and ambers and fewer reds.
The FSA say that front-of-pack traffic light labelling should be applied to ready meals, sandwiches, burgers, sausages, pies, pasties, pizzas, quiches, coated meat and fish products.
Many of Britain’s major supermarkets such as Asda, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, the Co-op and M&S, as well as producers like McCain, use traffic light labels on a range of these products, and the FSA is continuing to encourage more retailers, food manufacturers and service providers to adopt this approach.