MEPs this week dealt a fatal blow to the controversial traffic-light front-of-pack nutritional labelling scheme.

A clear majority of MEPs voted on Wednesday in favour of the Food Information Regulation, which advocates the mandatory use of GDAs in per 100g or 100ml values.

The draft legislation is expected to be fine-tuned over the 12 months before receiving its Second Reading, after which it will come into force. Most businesses will have three years to comply once it is adopted, while smaller companies with less than 5m sales and less than 100 employees will have five years.

The GDA camp welcomed the vote but hit out at claims it had engaged in a 1bn lobbying campaign to encourage MEPs to reject traffic lights.

"This talk of 1bn is absolute rubbish," said FDF communications director Julian Hunt. "I have no idea where they pulled that from. This is a huge piece of legislation and everyone has been having a say. There has been a particularly aggressive and professional lobbying campaign by NGOs and single-interest groups in favour of traffic lights."

The vote was also warmly received by the dairy sector. "Traffic lights appear to have been sent to the scrap bin, which we are heartily glad about," said dairy UK director general Jim Begg. "The endorsement of GDAs clearly underlines the need to look at foods in the context of a balanced diet, rather than individually."

The UK's biggest retailers were still divided, however, with Tesco and Morrisons favouring GDAs while Sainsbury's endorses a GDA-based traffic-light system. The Co-operative Group, M&S, Asda and Waitrose use a combination of the two.

Sainsbury's said it would continue to strive to convince Brussels of the importance of colour-coded labelling. "We're disappointed this vote does not recognise the value of traffic-light labelling as an important, at-a-glance tool for consumers," said a Sainsbury's spokesman. "But we will continue to ensure the voice of our customers is heard."

Dr Mike Rayner, chair of the Children's Food Campaign, described the vote as "a massive blow for consumers". "Traffic-light labels have been found to help parents make healthier food choices for their children," he said.

The European Parliament also voted to extend country-of-origin labelling to cover all meat, poultry, dairy and other single-ingredient products and to meat, fish and poultry when used in processed food.