Traffic light labeling: translating food labeling

OBJECTIVE: This study presented an adaptation of the Traffic Light Labeling or Nutrition Traffic Light adopted in the United Kingdom and other countries in Europe to the regulations in force in Brazil and classified the processed food products sold in the country. METHODS: This tool uses traffic light colors to indicate the amount of total, saturated and trans fats, sugar, sodium and fiber present in 100g or 100mL of the product. The red light indicates that the nutrient is in excess; yellow means average and green means appropriate. For fibers, low content is indicated by the red light and proper content by green light. High prices are indicated by red light and low ones by green light. The adaptation and administration of these concepts for Brazilian consumers were based on norms established by the Brazilian National Sanitary Surveillance Agency Agência Nacional de Vigilância Sanitária and by the British Food Standards Agency. RESULTS: One hundred processed foods from a Brazilian supermarket website were classified. The selected foods were the first five to eight items shown on a page of each of the 17 food categories. The analysis showed that the amount of total and saturated fats and sodium are high and the amounts of trans fats and fibers are low. CONCLUSION: The use of this method allows consumers to easily pick healthier foods, alerting consumers about the disadvantages of processed foods with respect to their nutritional quality, and incentivizes companies to improve the nutritional composition of their foods in order to receive a higher number of green lights and smaller number of red lights. This helps to prevent poor food choices, obesity and non-communicable chronic diseases, which are the main causes of early disability and death in Brazil.

Industrialized foods; Food consumption; Nutritional facts; Food labeling; Nutritional labeling

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