Food and Drink Federation director general Melanie Leech has rubbished claims by public health minister Caroline Flint that the industry's efforts to help improve consumers' eating habits were not enough.

Flint, who gave the food industry a controversial six-and-a-half out of ten for its efforts to deli­ver on the govern­ment's health agenda, claimed that the industry was ­delibe­rately obfuscating the front-of-pack labelling issue by opting for GDAs instead of the Food Standards Agency-backed traffic lights scheme (The Grocer)

But Leech hit back at Flint's assertion that front-of-pack GDAs would not be understood by consumers. "The point is, traffic lights just don't work. However much you reformulate, you will always get a red light for certain foods, such as mayonnaise, that are high in fat, even though one may be a reduced fat version of its full fat counterpart."

The evidence continued to show that GDAs worked, she said, pointing out that ten companies, including Tesco, Unilever and Nestlé, had signed up to GDAs.

Flint also claimed that the uproar over nutrient profiling was unfair because "companies are already using nutrient profiling tools themselves".

But Leech said: "We're talking apples and pears. The FSA scheme unduly labels foods good or bad with no scientific basis, so we reject it. Some companies do internally look at product innovation and have schemes to identify if they are meeting reformulation targets, but they're only measuring against themselves, not comparing totally different products."

Flint also said the deadline for measuring whether the balance of promotion to children had shifted - set for next spring - would not be changed.

However, Leech said: "This is a result of the usual mix of poor planning and cock-up. The timetable has slipped so far at the front end that we should move the back end on six months. We need to be sensible."