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