THE Co-operative Group has welcomed the Government's White Paper, Choosing Health ? Making Healthy Choices Easier, but cautions that to rely on voluntary action alone may not deliver the improvements expected in food labelling and advertising practices.
The Co-op has been campaigning since 1986 for industry-wide acceptance of its high, medium and low descriptors for the nutritional content of supermarket products ? even when they are high in fat, sugar and salt ? but the industry has only recently started to take on board such measures despite the obvious benefits for consumers.
The White Paper calls for information and reminders on pack about the responsible use of alcohol which the Co-op voluntarily adopted a decade ago and which industry is only just beginning to follow.
In 2000, the Co-op also introduced a ban on television advertising during children's TV of products that were likely to contribute to unhealthy diets and called on others to act, but without success.
Said David Croft, the Co-operative Group's Head of Co-op Brand: `In many cases the recommendations of the White Paper build on the pioneering work of the Co-op in championing the consumer's right to know.
`Now is the time for action, but if the Government wants a voluntary approach to work it will have to win the wider support of industry.`