BACKGROUND: Front of pack nutrition labelling is part of United Kingdom government's programme of activities aiming to tackle diet-related diseases . There are several front of pack labelling formats available and they differ in the information they deliver . This study assessed the frequency of usage of front of pack food labelling systems on food products in the United Kingdom grocery market . It also measured the healthiness of some foods in the online market by categorising them according to their nutrient contents .
METHODS: Five hundred food products in five categories [( 1) cereals and cereal products, (2) dairy products, (3) beverages, (4) packaged meats and meat products, and (5) pre-packaged fruits and vegetables] from three main United Kingdom retail websites were investigated . A simple random sampling method was used for product selection according to the categories on the retailers' websites . The healthiness of foods was also assessed by categorising them into 'healthier', 'moderately healthy' and 'least healthy' based on fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar contents .
RESULTS: The total number of label types assessed comprises 19.6% of Guideline Daily Amounts or Reference Intakes and 43.8% had a combination of Traffic Light and Reference Intakes (hybrid label). Slightly over a quarter (27.4 %) of products included nutritional information in a grid or table , 3.4% of the foods had two of any of the following: Health Logo, Reference Intakes and Traffic Light labels, and 5.8% did not have any Reference Intakes, Traffic Light, Health Logo or Hybrid label . Most of the foods assessed were manufactured in the United Kingdom with only 30.8% imported from 32 countries across four continents .
CONCLUSIONS: Traffic Light and Guideline Daily Amounts were the most used front of pack labelling formats on the assessed food product . A higher number of assessed products belonged to the``moderately healthy"and``healthier"categories than the``least healthy". The imported foods that were found in the United Kingdom retail market showed that food choices could be made from the diverse food types.
Index: Front of pack, Healthiness of foods, Nutrient profiling, Nutrition labelling