Sunday, May. 02, 2010

Traffic Light Program

What It Is: Originally developed by Britain's Food Standards Agency, the system aims to communicate important information to shoppers at a glance. Color-coded traffic light labels — red (high), amber (medium) and green (low) — indicate levels of calories, sugars, fats and sodium in a food.

Pros: Because the government is behind the system, the program is less likely to be influenced by industry. Research has shown that British consumers use the system actively. The FDA is now studying consumer response to a similar program in the U.S.

Cons: Critics say it's too complicated, and doesn't reach out to consumers with low education levels. The food industry has proposed a simpler system that appears more likely to gain acceptance in the rest of Europe.