The Grocer launches campaign as Labour spin about food and health grows

That Great British institution - the bacon butty - will be among the food products demonised by a labelling scheme that the industry fears the government is planning to introduce.
Cheese, orange juice, full cream milk and brown bread could also be tagged with red danger stickers should so-called single traffic light labelling ever get off the ground.
This week The Grocer unveils a campaign dubbed Junk the Spin, which highlights how the government is failing to work with industry to find new ways of improving the nation’s health. Editor Julian Hunt said: “It seems our campaign has not come soon enough. This is a daft idea that should be killed at birth.”
The idea of single traffic light labelling was mooted by health secretary John Reid at a recent meeting between ministers and industry leaders. Ministers told them that government was under pressure to take action in the food and health debate.
Reid made it clear he wanted to see labelling on the front of packs that would convey the simplest-possible message so that consumers could readily understand whether they were buying healthy foods. But a single traffic light scheme would be based on nutrition profiling - which is proving highly controversial as it can demonise foods that experts say are vital components in balanced diets.
It is also unclear how the government could force the industry to adopt such an unpopular scheme because all new food labelling legislation has to come out of Brussels.
“I just hope the government is engaging in some sabre rattling,” said one top industry figure, who was horrified at the prospect of such a simplistic scheme. “Reid clearly thinks we are all half-wits who cannot turn a tin around to read what’s already there in the form of Guideline Daily Amounts,” said one clearly exasperated retailer.
Reid’s threat came as industry continued to be battered on all fronts. This week 205 MPs said they supported legislation to end food marketing to children while the Liberal Democrats have incorporated traffic light labelling into their health policy.
“Not many manufacturers will want to produce red light products,” health spokesman Paul Burstow told The Grocer. The Co-operative Group also captured headlines when it extended its labelling scheme to brands. But a spokesman said it was anti traffic lights. “Many people associate red with danger. We’re not saying do not buy a product because it is high in salt or fat - some foods by their very nature are high in fat.”