Front-of-pack food labelling: Traffic light labelling gets the green light



Publication Details

Kelly, B., Hughes, C., Chapman, K., Louie, J. Chun Yu., Dixon, H., Crawford, J., King, L., Daube, M. Slevin, T. (2009). Front-of-pack food labelling: Traffic light labelling gets the green light. Dietitians Association of Australia 27th National Conference (pp. A17-A17).


The placement of nutrition information on the front of food packages has been proposed as a method of providing simplified and visible nutrition information. This study aimed to determine the most acceptable and effective front-of-pack food labelling system for Australian consumers. Consumers' preferences and ability to compare the healthiness of mock food products were assessed for different front-of-pack labelling systems. Four systems were tested, including two variations of the Percentage Daily Intake (%DI) system (Monochrome %DI and Colour-Coded %DI), which display the proportion of daily nutrient contribution that a serve of food provides; and two variations of the Traffic Light system (Traffic Light and Traffic Light + Overall Rating), which uses colour-coding to indicate nutrient levels. Intercept surveys with 790 consumers were conducted across four locations, where each participant was exposed to a single labelling system for performance testing. Participants indicated strong support for the inclusion of nutrient information on total fat, saturated fat, sugar and sodium on the front of packages, and a consistent labelling format across all products. Using the Traffic Light system, participants were five times more likely to identify healthier foods compared to the Monochrome %DI system (OR = 5.18; p < 0.001), and three times more likely compared to the Colour-Coded %DI system (OR = 3.01; p < 0.05). The Traffic Light system was the most effective in assisting consumers to identify healthier foods. Mandatory Traffic Light labelling regulations are recommended to assist consumers in making healthy food choices.

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