The Food Standards Association (FSA) has launched a consultation on the methodology for the next stage of the development of a signposting scheme for food labels.

Research for a scheme, published in November 2004, showed people tended to believe that a front-of-pack labelling scheme would make it easier for them to make healthier food choices when shopping and eating.

The initial research with consumers showed a preference for two schemes, the ‘Simple Traffic Light’ and the ‘Multiple Traffic Light’. At a stakeholder meeting it was also suggested that a third option should be considered, based on the contribution a serving of food makes to the Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) for key nutrients.

Rosemary Hignett, Agency head of nutrition, said: “We need to ensure that we create a scheme that will make it quick and easy for people to make informed choices. We are now consulting on the methodology for the final phase of consumer research to find out which scheme really helps consumers to make healthier choices.”

Commenting on the FSA’s consultation on front-of-pack labelling schemes, Food and Drink Federation deputy director general Martin Paterson, said: “We will study the report very carefully and offer detailed observations. However, it will be important to distinguish between schemes which actually help the consumer and those which are ‘easy on the eye’ like over simplistic traffic lights.

“We are surprised that information on calories does not seem to be included in any of the proposals. Additionally we would hope to see the research echoing developments by industry in the use of Guideline Daily Amounts which provide consumers with a simple ready reckoner in choosing foods to fit their diet.”