Tesco has changed its stance to introduce the ‘traffic light’ colour coding system on food packaging after previously shunning the system.

The grocer had been against introducing the labelling system but today said it will introduce a hybrid labelling system that combines its existing Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) with the “traffic light” colour coding system.

Tesco decided against using traffic light labelling in 2005 in favour of its own system.

Tesco said research has shown that the traffic light system does not give shoppers all the information they need but allowed shoppers to receive “at-a-glance guidance”. Tesco maintained GDAs give “accurate and meaningful information”.

Tesco said it is committed to working with Government, NGOs, public health organisations, other retailers and its supply chain to give shoppers more information on pack.

Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke said: “Tesco has led the way in giving shoppers clear information about the food they eat and was the first retailer to put nutritional information on the front of our packs in 2005 when we rolled out our Guideline Daily Amount labels.

“We always listen to our customers and they have told us that by combining our popular GDA labels with traffic light colour coding we can make it even easier for them to make informed and healthy choices about the food they buy.

He added: “We are committed to doing what is right for our customers and therefore have decided to bring together the distinct benefits of GDAs and traffic lights. We know customers are looking for a consistent approach, and intend to work with government, health bodies, other retailers and manufacturers to deliver this as soon as possible.”

Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King said: “We welcome Tesco’s recognition of the overwhelming benefits to consumers of adding traffic light labelling. Over the years, other forms of colour coding have been used, but these have proved to be misleading for customers. The approach of those who do not use traffic light labelling has long been a barrier to achieving a consistent approach.

“We hope this announcement will encourage other retailers and manufacturers to join us in working together to help achieve a consistent labelling for customers, to help them make healthier choices, wherever they shop.”