Tesco Shoppers conned by 'healthy' food labels ~ Tesco-Complaint

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tesco Shoppers conned by 'healthy' food labels

The Daily Mail reports that Tesco Shoppers are being misled by a new food industry labelling system which can make products appear healthier than they really are, campaigners have claimed. The labels adopted by Tesco, Walker's, Kellogg's, Nestle and many others, are claimed to offer clear information.

However, health campaigners believe the system is being manipulated to give a false impression. Under the GDA system - it stands for Guideline Daily Amount - the amounts of fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt in one serving of a product are shown on the front of the pack. ach figure is also shown as the percentage it makes up of the recommended daily intake or GDA.

But campaigners says manufacturers may use artificially small servings as the basis for the figures, while the consumption data is calculated against the diet of an adult man, making the percentagesmisleading for children, teenagers and most women. The National Heart Forum has published a report detailing failings in the GDA system.

Its deputy chief executive, Jane Landon, said: "Some manufacturers and retailers are failing their customers by using nutritional food labels which are overly complex and misleading. "Some even appear to be manipulating the front-of-pack label to promote their products rather than to inform their customers."

The Daily Mail highlighted the problems with the GDA labelling last September. We revealed that Tesco was among firms using unrealistically small servings as the basis of its figures. For example, the serving used for its wafer thin honey roast ham was a single slice while the one for its Value Milk Chocolate was a single chunk.

The forum has published further examples. It said the GDA figures on a bottle of Tesco cola are calculated on the basis of 100ml, though a typical serving is normally regarded as a 330ml can. The label on Kellogg's Ricicles, says a 30g serving of the children's cereal provides 13 per cent of an adult's GDA for sugar. However, it would be 24 per cent of the daily sugar consumption recommended for a child aged between five and ten.

Tesco's Cheese Singles, from the chain's Healthy Living range, gives nutritional information for a single slice. The label says this serving offers 7 per cent of the GDA for saturated fat and 10 per cent for salt. However, the pack picture suggests a serving of five slices, which would be 35 per cent of the GDA for saturated fat and 50 per cent for salt.

The food industry, led by Tesco, developed the GDA scheme as an alternative to the Traffic Lights system promoted by the Government's Food Standards Agency. The FSA scheme uses red, amber and green logos to identify whether a product is high, medium or low in fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar.

Miss Landon said: "Consumer research shows that the Food Standards Agency's traffic light labels work best to enable real, healthy change in people"s shopping habits.

"Repeated surveys show that consumers would like to see one, universal labelling scheme - such as the traffic lights - whatever the brand, wherever they shop."

Richard Watts, of the Children's Food Campaign, said: "The case for supporting traffic light food labelling is now overwhelming. This report will put real pressure on the stuck-in-the-mud retailers and food companies that still use the discredited GDA labels."

Tesco said it was reviewing some of its GDA labels, including those on cola, chocolate, ham and sausages, with the intention of changing the size of the servings. A spokesman said: "We know that customers find GDA labelling helpful in choosing healthier options, and we reject the idea that the scheme is complex and misleading. The test of any nutritional labelling system is whether it changes behaviour, and our nutritional signposts are doing just that."

Kellogg's described the attack on GDA labels as "amazing". A spokesman said there are plans to develop standard portion sizes to help consumers make comparisons, and to put GDA figures relevant to children on packs.

Tesco-Complaint: "Helpful" is not a word which we would not use to describe Tesco's despicable behaviour in allowing obesity by purposefully misleading and failing to educate its customers - all this in the name of profit. This is one reason why Terry Leahy is so close to Tony Blair and this is one reason why Tesco sponsors Labour to the tune of tens of millions of pounds (compare to Tesco's charitable donations...) - by handing out money to political parties Tesco can make sure that the Government will not regulate in this area and force fair food labelling. Obesity crisis for your kids? Very possible if you shop at Tesco...

More info in our previous article: "Red light for Tesco PLC's obesity"


tm said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
TM said...

Surely if you were wishing to eat healthy and were concerned about obesity then you would choose not to eat any processed foods, let alone Milk Chocolate and cola.

If you're worried about being fat, stick to salad and veg, and stop feeding your kids on junk food, whether you can understand the labelling or not!

You blaming Tesco for everything, and now obesity is getting VERY boring.

TM said...

The first post by "tm" was not posted by me. I'm sure Tesco-Complaint can confirm this with their expertise in IP addresses.

Anonymous said...

The traffic light system is definitely clearer to understand. Some retailers don't like it because it can cut sales as it is very clear - a Sainsbury's own label curry saw sales drop by a huge % because of red lights

Anonymous said...

"Tesco-Complaint: "Helpful" is not a word which we would not use to describe Tesco's despicable behaviour in allowing obesity by purposefully misleading and failing to educate its customers"

So it's Tesoc's fault people are fat..........

No it's their own fault for stuffing junk food and alochol down their throats all the time.

"Obesity crisis for your kids? Very possible if you shop at Tesco..."

No.........stop giving them crisps and all the crap they demand.

Next this blog will have people are getting shorter...............It's Tesco's fault!

TM said...

If people are really that concerned about what quantities of ingredients are in prepared foods, then perhaps they shouldn't buy these food types all and cook their own.

Do we all really need to be patronised with silly traffic light labels, no thanks!

Al said...

If people want to stuff themselves stupid on processed rubbish and junk food then let them. If they want to feed the same to their kids then so be it. Why should it be up to anyone else to tell people what they should and shouldn't be eating?

I agree that if people are truly concerned enough with what they eat to actually pay any attention to the labelling system then they probably wouldn't be buying processed cheese etc. anyway. It doesn't take a great deal of intelligence to realise that it's probably not going to be good for you.

I agree that there should be a standard serving size which is used in the calculations to avoid any confusion as to what is meant by a serving. Although the total RDA they calculate it against will never cater for everyone unless they have three different values on the packaging. But then if they did that there would probably be another complaint that they're making things too complicated.

Many products have the percentage RDAs for men and women on the back anyway but if we do have to be patronised by a rating system then I would suggest that the traffic light idea is probably the best one. It's simpler and more attention grabbing than a list of percentages.

I am constantly amazed at the logic Tesco-Complaint uses. Tesco support the percentage idea which can be misleading so therefore it's Tesco's fault that people are fat. Of course it is, the fact that people choose to shovel it into themselves and their children has nothing to do with it at all. Not to mention the other companies mentioned, surely it's their fault too, but then Tesco stock those products too so of course it's Tesco's fault again. Fantastic.

i hate tesco said...

this isnt about blaming tesco for people getting fat, its just pointing out that they are distorting facts to gain profit, eg one chunk of chocolate classed as a serving? the fact that they are misleading the customers, and find it acceptable, this is the problem.

Al said...

Distorting facts to gain profits? If every bar of chocolate in the store had these ratings displayed then yes, by using a stupidly small serving size that would be the case. It would make the Tesco chocolate seem much healthier than the other brands. However, since there are only a limited number of brands currently using any visbible system then that isn't really the case as customers can't make a proper comparison.

Serving sizes are objective anyway, some people may only have one chunk of chocolate at a time while others may think nothing of eating the whole bar at once. As long as the serving size used is clearly stated then I don't see as there's too much of a problem. Note that it doesn't say anywhere whether or not this is the case, but they had to get the information from somewhere.

As long as the serving sizes are stated on the packaging they're not misleading anyone. Using a small serving size may not be the best way to go about things but it's not mislading as long as it's stated.

Anonymous said...

Theres proof here that this really just having a go at Tescos for the sake of it.

Here's the proof..........

Chocolate is not exactly a healthy form of food anyway! Why on earth are people arguing about the portion size of chocolate, chocolate is chocolate, you can hardly describe it as low fat and healthy.

TM said...

They just want the Nanny State to extend to the private sector too.

Al said...

Processed cheese isn't exactly healthy either. Also, who would eat half a packet (5 slices) as one serving (as suggested in the post)?

tm sucks said...

Asda is still a better supermarket though, shame

Anonymous said...

Well I have just bought a salad from Tesco's. I was trying to go for the healthy option, and I didn't have time to make my own.
The salad was an individual portion designed for 1 person as a meal. The GDA info on the front told me it had 235 calories, and 12.7g fat. A bit high on the fat, but I had little choice as I was short of time. I got back to work, and saw the tiny words "Half of a pack contains". Do they expect me to split this meal with a friend?!!
I will be complaining to Tesco's (in writing as this is pretty much the only option) and I will also cc Trading Standards. This can only be intended to mislead people, and it needs to stop.

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