Manoeuvring by rival camps in the nutrition labelling debate is being stepped up as plans for official research into the effectiveness of the different schemes take shape.

The Project Management Panel set up by the FSA to oversee the research meets next week to finalise details of the study, which starts later this year. These will be sent to the influential Nutrition Strategy Steering Group for comment.

NSSG members include Sainsbury's boss Justin King and Tesco chairman David Reid. Their views will be considered by the Project Management Panel.

Last week, the FDF, which is championing GDAs over the FSA's preferred traffic lights approach, hinted it believed the presence of two different systems in the market would be no bad thing. "There are differences in opinion but this is not surprising given the complexity of the issues," said FDF president Iain Ferguson. "I would not be surprised if both labelling approaches work in the sense of helping consumers to improve the balance of their diet. After all, no single ad campaign works for all consumers."

The FSA has pledged to stand by the results of the research - even if they show traffic lights are less effective than GDAs. Sainsbury's King has said the retailer would remove traffic light-based labelling from its products if GDAs won public support.