Change4Life healthy food kitemark plan abandoned

The Change4Life scheme will not include a kitemark

NHS chiefs have dropped plans for food products to carry a health kitemark under the government’s Change4Life scheme.

The announcement by Public Health England comes after consumer research showed the public was sceptical such a label could be trusted amid fears it would also clash with the recently-launched universal front-of-pack labelling scheme.

Public Health England made exploring the potential of the kitemark one of the main priorities of its £55m-a-year marketing plan less than five months ago.

It is the second time proposals for such a scheme under Change4Life have been dropped, with the DH axing an earlier prototype in 2010.

“I’m not surprised the public didn’t trust this idea,” said Jane Landon, deputy CEO of the UK Health Forum. “The important thing that Change4Life needs is to have the public seal of approval and trust.”

Faculty of Public Health vice president for policy Dr John Middleton added: “A health kitemark risked being, at best, confusing and, at worst, giving the impression that products are healthy, when they are anything but.”

A similar scheme in Australia, seen as a potential model for the Change4Life plans, has had a controversial reception with the Australian authorities accused of being too close to food companies, after burger chain McDonald’s became a partner.

Public Health England’s director of marketing Sheila Mitchell said: “We currently have no plans to introduce a Change4Life kitemark on food packaging, however we will continue to explore ways for Change4Life to be used to support consumers in making healthier choices.”