I would like to welcome that all major UK supermarkets have signed up to the voluntary food labeling scheme which reflects the content of the product. This system involves the stores placing red, amber and green labels for packaged foods to indicate whether the product is high in fat, saturated fat, sugar, calories and salt.
It is my view that traffic light labeling system should be implemented in all major food retailers here in Ireland, including newsagents.
A system like this could aid people in making healthy choices and expose some so called ‘healthy’ options. This would arm people with the proper information on what they are eating.
This move is all part of the plans to tackle obesity in the UK and we need to follow suit, as problems surrounding being overweight is a major issue here in Ireland too.
It is important that governments are not swayed by the major food corporations who are opposed to this, these are driven by profits and may not be overly concerned with the health impacts on consumers.
These labels in my opinion are more effective than GDAs alone because they are easily seen straight away by the shopper. This label show will show people how much of the maximum daily intake of fat, saturated fat, salt, sugar and calories is in a 100g portion.
The Department of Health has signaled that the introduction of the traffic light system of food labeling will happen. This would be in addition to the more established guideline daily allowance (GDA) labels which are also due to be implemented.
I am extremely worried that obesity and people being overweight costs the country over €1.1 billion per year, according to a UCC study. Studies from Growing up Ireland also found that a quarter of thirteen year olds are overweight and 19% of children are overweight at age nine.
I intend to apply pressure on the Minister to give an exact time frame of when these measures will be put in place. We need to commit to a societal make-over to tackle this growing problem