Packaging Innovation
traffic light labels EU
March 29, 2017

They’ve seen the light! EU welcomes ‘traffic light labels’

Remember when we talked about traffic light labels in the UK? They’re now coming to the rest of the EU! With a few minor changes, that is. Coca-Cola, Mondelez, Unilever, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Mars are paving the way for this innovative food labelling concept. While public health campaigners applaud the color-coded labels for their easy interpretability, they take issue with the current use of portion sizes.

Simplified color-coded food labels

In a joint press release earlier this month, Coca-Cola, Mondelez, Unilever, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Mars announced that they are ready to introduce color-coded nutrition labels in any EU country that wants to adopt interpretive food labelling. The companies emphasized, however, the importance of a uniform food labelling scheme across Europe. Indeed, the EU already voiced its ambition for a simplified color-coded labelling system as early as 2008.

UK traffic light labels reinvented

A spokesperson for Nestlé explained that the color-coded food labels will look exactly like the UK’s voluntary traffic light labeling system, both in terms of text and visuals. Contrary to the UK system, though, the colors of these food labels will likely be based on portion size instead of a 100 g/ml basis.

Will this lead to deceptive packaging?

If the six companies go ahead with their plans, this will become a case of misleading packaging, public health campaigners fear. They believe using portion size – which varies from manufacturer to manufacturer – as a reference will result in products going from red to amber or amber to green without any changes to the recipe whatsoever. Meanwhile, Nestlé claims a portion approach will in fact help the consumer understand the information provided. This claim is backed by a number of food and health specialists who believe nutrition labels based on portion do make sense, as it better reflects actual consumption. To be continued!   Inspired by Dairy Reporter