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Kellogg's gives in on government's 'traffic light' labels

Kellogg cereal boxes with traffic light labelingImage copyright

Kellogg's is put in "traffic light" labeling on most of its cereal packs sold in the UK from January, having previously refused to do so.

The UK government's voluntary scheme, introduced in 2013, indicates how much salt, sugar or fat foods contain.

Kellogg's said it had made the change after having "listened" to consumers, government and retailers.

Consumer organisation Which? said it was a "positive move" but it should apply to all the cereals, not just some.

The "traffic light" system labels foods green, amber or red, to help consumers easily identify products that have low, medium or high levels of salt, fat and sugar.

Kellogg's new labeling will start to appear on brands including Coco Pops, Crunchy Nut, Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, Frosties and Special K from January 2019. The roll out will be completed by early 2020.

"We're changing because we're changing our last time to our announcement last year to overhaul our cereals in the UK, we decided to look again at labeling," Kellogg's said in a statement.

Kellogg's UK managing director Oli Morton said the decision followed a survey of 2,000 Britons asking them about their attitudes toward labeling.

Mr Morton said: "Put simply, they said we should change and move to a full color solution as we've heard help and now we're acting."


However, "traffic light" labeling will not be used on Kellogg's multilingual boxes shared across many European countries, where the system is not well-known, nor will it appear on single serve packs.

As a result just 80% of Kellogg's cereal packs sold in the UK and Ireland will carry the new labels.

Until now Kellogg's has stuck to the so-called "Reference Intake" labeling scheme, displayed in monochrome colors on packs. It shows the maximum amount of calories and nutrients people need in a day.

Now, however, it said: "Times have changed; changing to color coded labels is a response to what consumers and government want from us in the UK."

Many supermarkets have voluntarily adopted the "traffic light" system for their own brands, while rival cereal maker Nestle introduced the "traffic light" scheme on its cereal brands including Shreddies and Cheerios in 2017. Weetabix has used it since 2016.

Earlier this year which? calls on the government to fix the "chaos" of food labeling standards when the UK leaves the EU.

'At a glance'

Under EU rules "traffic light" labeling is voluntary, so some manufacturers do not use it.

Which? said it must be mandatory.

Strategic policy adviser Sue Davies said the organisation believed the traffic light nutrition system helped people to compare "at a glance" as a result of sugar and salt and fat in a healthy way.

"While this is a very positive move from Kellogg's, it should be applied to all the brand's products sold in the UK and Ireland, not just 80% of them.

"The Government must now use Brexit as a chance to introduce a high standard of standards and aimed at boosting the nation's health and well-being," added Ms Davies.

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