Traffic light system
The Healthy Choices guidelines categorise foods and drinks into three groups. These are:
The GREEN category – best choices
Foods and drinks in the GREEN category are the healthiest choices. They are usually:
- good sources of important nutrients
- lower in saturated fat, added sugar and/or salt
- lower in energy (kilojoules)
- higher in fibre.
GREEN foods and drinks should always be available and they should be promoted as the best choices.
Wherever foods and drinks are offered (e.g. retail outlets, vending machines and catering), at least 50% of choices should be from the GREEN category.
The AMBER category – choose carefully
AMBER foods and drinks should be selected carefully and should only be eaten in moderation. Although AMBER items may provide some good nutrients they can:
- lead you to take in too much energy (kilojoules)
- contain saturated fat, added sugar and/or salt.
AMBER foods and drinks may be offered, but should not dominate. They should not be promoted over GREEN choices.
The RED category – limit
Foods and drinks in the RED category are not essential. If they are consumed too often, or in large amounts, they can lead to weight gain and chronic diseases.
In general RED choices are:
- high in energy (kilojoules)
- high in saturated fat, added sugar and/or salt
- low in important nutrients such as fibre.
RED foods and drinks should be consumed rarely and only in small amounts. In retail outlets and vending machines, no more than 20% of foods and drinks should be from the RED category.
RED foods and drinks should not be provided in workplace catering.
The table below includes examples of foods and drinks in the GREEN, AMBER and RED categories:
|Bread||Some savoury breads and crackers||Sugary drinks (e.g. soft drinks, sports drinks)|
|High fibre breakfast cereals||Some wholemeal muffins or scones with added fruit and vegetables||Confectionery|
|Reduced fat milk, cheese and yoghurt||Dried fruit||Ice creams and dairy desserts|
|Lean meat||Fish canned in brine or oil||Biscuits, cakes, slices and sweet pastries|
|Fish||Salted nuts and seeds||Saturated fats and oils (e.g. butter, cream)|
|Eggs||Some oven baked potato products||Crisps and chips|
|Plain nuts and seeds||Regular fat milk, cheese, yoghurt and custard||Pies, sausage rolls|
|Tofu||Some flavoured milk||Devon, salami, Strasburg|
|Fruit (fresh, frozen)||99% fruit juice||Sausages, saveloys|
|Vegetables||Artificially sweetened drinks|
|Legumes and beans|
For more examples of foods and drinks in each category, or to learn how to classify products, please refer to the Healthy choices: food and drink classification guide.