Traffic Light Food Labels Could Lower Mortality Rate


Sarah Peddie

Colour coded labels on food packaging could help lower the risk of diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, according to a study in Canada. 

The study in the PLOS ONE journal specifically looked at the traffic light labelling (TLL) system. In the system, a red label on food packaging is a visual warning to customers that the product may not be good for their health and taking a look at the fine print is highly suggested. 

At the other end of the scale, green labels will indicate to the customer that the product is a good healthy option.  

The study has built on previous studies into the TLL system in Canada and wanted to investigate whether avoiding red labelled food would lower mortality rates in the country.

By using a study from 2004 by the Canadian Community Health Survey and the UK’s 2013 TLL criteria the researchers came up with a conclusion. 

It was estimated that just under 12,000 deaths per year that are diet-related could be prevented if Canadian citizens avoided foods that had red labels. 

Health Canada has called for front-of-package labelling, that is not TLL, but specifies when a product contains high levels of fat, sodium and sugar.

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