The government’s hopes of creating a single food labelling system have been dented after Tesco said it would not agree to the Foods Standards Agency’s (FSA) "unproven" traffic light system.
The FSA has commissioned a £500,000 independent evaluation of consumer opinion about the three main types of front-of-pack labelling: the traffic light scheme; traffic light colour-coded guideline daily amounts (GDAs), and mono- chrome GDAs.
But a Tesco spokesman said it already knew that its GDA scheme was "changing eating habits for the better".
He said: "We cannot honestly agree to an unproven FSA scheme which can only be used on a much narrower range of products." The retailer does not use the traffic light system.
Sandwiches, wraps, filled baguettes, pies, pasties and quiches are among the products that consumers want to see carrying front-of-pack signpost labelling, according to the FSA.
Gordon Polson, director of the Federation of Bakers, said the organisation was happy to see the issue of labelling looked at, but added that the cost implications of any redesigning of labels for the industry would only become apparent when details of any chosen scheme were finalised.
The research, which is being conducted by the British Market Research Bureau, will be published in December.
Asda nutritionist Vanessa Hattersley said the rest of the food industry should follow its lead and "introduce a consistent labelling system that combines GDAs and traffic lights".