Pressure is mounting on Morrisons to alter its food labelling to adopt the traffic light system but the grocer has called for greater consistency across its rivals first.
Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King has urged fellow retailers and food manufacturers to adopt the system after Tesco “finally” agreed to use the labelling method alongside the Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) – a combination Sainsbury’s also uses – last week.
The traffic light system grades food as red, amber or green depending on how nutritious it is, with green being the most healthy.
Morrisons was among a group of retailers consulted on front-of-pack labelling during a Department of Health consultation which concluded in June. The Government is now considering the responses it has received.
A spokesman for the grocer said: “We are open-minded about alternative forms of nutrition labelling. We believe greater consistency between retailers and manufacturers is in the consumer interest, but there are a number of issues that need to be addressed before this can be achieved.”
Morrisons, which uses GDA, believes traffic light definitions of the contents of each product are not the same throughout the industry, so a product that gains a green light in one grocer may receive an amber from another.
Tesco last week performed a u-turn on its original stance on the issue. It had been opposed to the traffic light system in favour of GDA but implemented traffic lights following shopper research.
King said: “That Tesco has finally recognised the overwhelming benefits to consumers of traffic light labelling is to be welcomed. It may seem a small detail to some, but the more widespread adoption of front-of-pack labelling using both GDAs and multiple traffic lights will make it easier for all our customers to make healthier choices.
“It’s time for common sense to prevail and for other food retailers and manufacturers who have yet to adopt this approach to join together.”
King said that, with health in the spotlight due to the Olympics and Paralympics, which Sainsbury’s is sponsoring, large food companies should encourage consumers to lead healthy lifestyles.
The Morrisons spokesman added: “Morrisons displays front-of-pack nutrition information in the form of GDA. We believe this system is easy to understand, comprehensive and objective, allowing customers to achieve a balanced diet.”