The traffic light system for explaining the nutritional value of foods is not working, a recent survey indicates.

According to a recent study by an online label company, Sainsbury’s supermarket has the clearest labels on their food with nearly 1 in 4 respondents finding their labels easy to understand. The survey found the most difficult nutritional labelling to understand is Morrisons, which only 1 in 10 respondents fully understanding the label.

As levels of obesity rise and people remain confused by portion size and the GDA system, surveyed more than 1,000 people aged 18 and over to find out which of the big four supermarkets have the clearest labels when it comes to displaying nutritional information and portion sizing.

The company asked respondents to judge the labels on own brand 400g lasagne, which is a serving size for one person, from Asda, Sainsbury’s Tesco and Morrisons. The labels were displayed without the company logo and branding to make certain the survey was impartial.

The traffic light system was adopted in the UK to help consumers see the nutritional and GDA information of food per portion. However, because it varies from retailer to retailer and brand to brand, many people can find them confusing.

Philip Carlyn, Managing Director at Data Label commented:

“The traffic light system on food labels displays low, medium and high values, each of which correspond to the traditional traffic colours: green, orange and red. Simple enough to understand and follow, but this is where people get confused, because each supermarket varies the weight this is worked out on, either per 100g or per portion which could be higher or lower than 100g depending on the product.”