Almost three quarters of consumers are misinterpreting the messages of the FSA’s controversial traffic-light labelling system. This is a key finding from independent research carried out by the European Food Information Council, which also dismisses the FSA’s contention that consumers spend just five seconds reading a label before choosing a particular item.

A survey of 2,019 consumers in Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco stores found UK shoppers spend 25 seconds on average per food item bought. The most time is spent on ready meals, with the least on carbonated soft drinks. Awareness of GDA and traffic-light labelling were both high, but the report found understanding of traffic lights was characterised by exaggeration of the colours’ meaning, with 73% believing red meant avoid as opposed OK occasionally. There was also a lack of understanding that the system is applied per 100g.