Sainsbury has suspended its membership of the British Retail Consortium until the end of April in a row over food labelling.

The retailer suspended its membership after Kevin Hawkins, director general of the BRC, appeared to oppose the Food Standard Agency's calls for a 'traffic lights' food labelling scheme in a television interview.

Sainsbury has already set up a front-of-pack labelling scheme using traffic lights but the BRC favours a labelling scheme using Guideline Daily Amounts.

A spokesman for Sainsbury said: “We can confirm that Sainsbury has suspended its membership of the BRC until the end of April. This follows concern about how the BRC is able to represent members effectively on issues where they hold significantly differing views.”

He added: “We have had concerns for a while, but this issue was highlighted most recently following the FSA's announcement on sign-posting.”

A spokesman for the BRC said: “We represent a broad range of retailers. This is a private matter between Sainsbury and ourselves. We are in discussions with them and are confident that the issue will shortly be resolved.”