ASDA combines GDA and traffic light labelling

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Traffic light scheme Nutrition Asda

UK supermarket ASDA has adopted a 'best of both worlds' approach to
food nutrition labelling on its own-label foods, combining the Food
Standards Agency's traffic light scheme with the CIAA's (GDA)
guideline daily amount system.

Debate over the best way to present nutritional information on food products has been heated in recent times, not least because of the focus on healthier eating to reduce the burden of lifestyle-related disease such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes. The European Commission is also reviewing labelling requirements in order to simplify the rules and reduce the burden on industry, with a draft proposal to cover both general and nutritional labelling is expected by the end of this year. Much of the emphasis has been on ensuring that the information is presented in an easy to read and easy to understand manner, so that consumers are in little doubt as to what they are buying. ASDA says it chose a middle way between the two most popular options because consumer research showed that people liked the bright colours of the traffic light scheme, while the GDAs give easy to understand info to the more nutritionally aware. The idea is that consumers can digest the information on labels in under two seconds. The new labels are expected to be used from September, with all 1,000 ASDA label products carrying them by the end of the year. The traffic light scheme has proved controversial, with criticism levelled at it from some quarters that it is unscientific. The CIAA, which represents the voice of the European food and drink industry, introduced its voluntary GDA values for energy, protein, total carbohydrates, total fat, saturated fat, fibre and sodium last summer in the absence of EU regulation. ASDA has said that it expects its two-pronged approach "to cause a fuss" with rival supermarkets that have opted for a one or other approach. Moreover, ASDA claimed it had questioned Tesco customers as part of its consumer research, with 64 per cent allegedly saying they preferred the new ASDA label over Tesco's GDA version. A spokesperson for Tesco was not available to comment prior to publication. ASDA also believes it will give its own-label products a competitive edge on the shelf alongside those of big brand companies it claims "have been reluctant to introduce any system which they feel could highlight the sugar and fat content of their products". However multinational companies are​ taking on board the need to reformulate product ranges to reduce negative nutrients. Coca-Cola, Groupe Danone, Kellogg, Kraft Foods, Nestle, PepsiCo and Unilever were the seven original subscribers to GDA, and as of April Masterfoods, Campbell Soup Company and Cadbury Schwepps had joined their ranks. "We expect more of our members to follow suit in the near future,"​ said CIAA president Jean Martin. ​ ASDA has traditionally been positioned as the low-cost retailer in the UK retail landscape, but it is increasingly communicating efforts to improve the healthy profile of its products - a factor that indicates the mainstreaming of the trend that was led through its first stages by an aware middle class. So far this year it has pledged to remove all artificial colours and flavours, hydrogenated fat and flavour enhancers from its own-label products, as well as replace low-calorie sweetener aspartame with sucralose. It expects to meet the FSA's salt reduction targets by the end of this year, ahead of the 2010 deadline.

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