Nation's leading food and drink brands launch advertising campaign as part of initiative to encourage Britons to make healthier eating decisions

On 8 January, the UK’s leading food and drink companies will launch a £4m advertising campaign that aims to help people make better-informed decisions about the food they eat.  This is just one strand in an 18-month campaign - the biggest joint initiative ever undertaken by the food industry - to help Government meet pledges it made in its “Choosing Health” White Paper in 2004.

Called, “know what’s going inside you,” the TV, online [1] and print campaign - which runs between January and August - explains how people can use Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) labels to assess the calories, sugars, fat, saturates and salt that are suggested for a balanced diet.  To coincide with this, 21 food and drink companies plus three major retailers [2] have added GDA labels to over 10,000 product lines, amounting to nearly 40% of UK retail food and drink packs [3]. 

The participants back this labelling and advertising approach based on five factors:  people find the labels easy to use [4]; they are based on Government guidelines [5]; nutrition experts have been supportive of them [6]; people can use them to assess actual portions of food, rather than 100g blocks [7]; and sales evidence from Tesco indicates that they encourage people to make healthier choices [8]. 

Food industry GDA campaign director, Jane Holdsworth said: “This isn’t just about a label, it’s about a lifestyle.  We have made it simple to compare what’s inside thousands of everyday foods so you can choose what best suits your diet.  The adage that metaphorically you can only compare ‘apples with apples’ is no longer true - now can you compare apples with bananas, or cereals with yoghurts, if you wish.  With this power you can make some simple, effective and healthy decisions about how you eat.”

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For further information please call the GDA press office on +44 (0)20 7820 9764

  1. Online support is through the www.whatsinsideguide.com - launched in Autumn 2006.
  2. The companies that support GDA labelling are: Associated British Foods, AG Barr, Birds Eye, Britvic, Coca-Cola, Cadbury Schweppes, Calypso, Danone, Gerber, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, Kellogg, Kraft, Masterfoods, Morrisons, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Shloer, Somerfield, Sunny Delight, Tate & Lyle, Tesco, Unilever, Vimto and Warburtons.
  3. Source: TNS Worldpanel, 52 weeks ending 8 October 2006.  Sales of 14 of the 24 participating companies represent 37% of all UK sales of food and drinks packs and 37% of all expenditure.
  4. In a survey of 911 people in Autumn 2007, Kellogg’s found that 46% were already aware of GDA labels (up from 19% the year before) compared with 21% for MTL labels and, of those, 94% found GDAs helpful (up from 87%).  23% found GDAs personally useful (up from 7%) compared with 6% for MTLs, and 25% said GDAs told them something they didn’t previously know.
  5. GDAs have been recognised as an authoritative means of labelling food for more than a decade. They are based on information published by both a Government committee (COMA, now superseded by another body, SACN), and independent academics. COMA: The Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy in 1991 established dietary reference values of nutrients in the UK that are still valid today.  The GDA scheme is suitable for use across most  food & drinks whilst the traffic light scheme has been recommended by the FSA for a small number of categories
  6. The Food and Drink Federation conducted a survey of 45 professional, independent nutrition consultants in a group called SENSE.  The majority credit both MTLs and GDAs as being equally good for giving consumers “at a glance” information on the level of nutrients in the product.   The majority of respondents credit both as being helpful to consumers and both are considered equally good for giving consumers “at a glance” information on the nutrients in the product.  60% think gda labels are useful for finding out about the nutritional content of the food product (25% for mtl labels).  For helping to see the contribution the food product makes to your diet, 80% think GDA labels are useful (just over 10% for MTL labels).  75% think the GDA scheme is a scientifically valid form of providing information on labels about the nutritional content of a food portion in relation to an adult’s approximate daily requirements (less than half thought this for MTL).  The poll respondents were a self-selected sample comprising ~75% of the sense group membership.   The summary of results should in no way be interpreted as a 'position' taken by SENSE as a group.
  7. GDA labels show consumers how much of their GDA is in a portion of food, while the traffic light scheme uses per 100g amounts to determine the colour code. So, for example, using MTL 2.0g of salt rates as “med salt” which is in fact 33% of an adult’s GDA. By comparison a 25g packet of crisps may contain 0.4g of salt (7% of an adult GDA), but would be coded red under MTL.
  8. Based on weekly sales eight weeks before the introduction of GDA labels, and eight weeks after, Tesco lower fat ready meals outsold higher fat varieties by 7%, while lower salt meals outsold higher salt versions by 10%.

Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) Labelling
Food and Drink Federation (FDF)
Press Office: +44 (0)20 7820 9764
89 Albert Embankment
London SE1 7TP
Switch: 020 7815 3900
Fax: 020 7815 3999

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