Northern Foods is to nail its colours to the Guideline Daily Amounts mast.

In an exclusive interview, CEO Pat O'Driscoll said the company believed GDAs, originally developed by Tesco, represented the best way for manufacturers to encourage healthy eating.

She said that staff at the manufacturer had engaged in extensive internal discussions about the issue before rejecting the FSA's traffic light labelling approach for branded products.

The company is set to begin rolling out GDAs to brands in its portfolio, which include Goodfella's, Fox's and Dalepak. "In the immediate term, we are focusing on standardising implementation of GDAs across every brand."

Many food scientists favoured the GDA system, O'Driscoll said. "We believe it is scientifically based and we want to be able to refer back to scientific reasons for doing things."

Her comments come as the debate intensifies over the best approach for front-of-pack nutritional labelling, a row that has divided retailers and manufacturers. Northern Foods also supplies own-label products to major food retailers, some of whom - such as Sainsbury's - have opted for traffic light-based labelling. However, the company's views would not affect its relationship with such customers, said O'Driscoll. "Clearly where we are providing own-label products, we are governed by the strategies adopted by our retail customers."

Separately, O'Driscoll confirmed production had been restored to two thirds of Northern Foods' Fletchers Bakeries site in Sheffield, which was damaged by fire in July.

Work was under way to assess future production at the site. The sale of Fletchers Bakeries had not been delayed by the blaze, said O'Driscoll.

The sell-off of non-core businesses was progressing well, she added. "We're gathering responses from interested parties and working through due diligence."

O'Driscoll hopes that the divestment programme will be completed within a year. This would leave the company with a 50/50 split of branded and own-label products.