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Economic news – Embassy 5 – February 2008

Exposed! Britain's red-light weekends

Brits like to indulge in unhealthy 'red-light' foods over the weekend, research into the government's proposed 'traffic light' system of food labelling has shown.

This fact was revealed by John Harwood, the Chief Executive of the British Food Standards Agency (FSA) at a Foreign Agricultural Club event hosted by the German Embassy.

The FSA chief outlined how British attitudes to food were changing, and added that bad diet, too little exercise and smoking were to blame for the increase in lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes or heart problems.

In a bid to help consumers make healthier choices, he outlined several government proposals, including working with the food industry to reduce unhealthy ingredients in their products; promoting healthier school and workplace meals; restricting television advertising to children; and providing clearer nutrition labelling.

Whereas the industry favours a labelling according to percentages of daily intakes, the government prefers the simpler traffic light system.

A final decision will rely on a research programme that will deliver initial findings in late 2008.

For information on the FAC, contact Peter Kell on Peter.Kell@mfat.govt.nz

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