Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Adopter companies FAQs
How many companies provide the GDA labels on their packs?
There are 93 adopters (June 2010) of the GDA labelling scheme: five retailers, three foodservice
organisations, two convenience store chains and 83 manufacturing companies. The
adopters have introduced easily
recognisable GDA icon labels, which feature prominently on the front of pack of over 20,000 product lines.
This amounts to a massive 50% of all UK retail food and drink packs.
GDA icons FAQs
Do you have any information on protein intake guidelines?
The GDA information for protein for an adult woman (45g) and man (55g) and
children (24g) (aged 5-10 years) - for more information view GDAs for different nutrients.
Why do the labels include percentages?
Percentages are included because they quickly and easily clarify the nutritional content of each food product in the context of a person's whole diet.
This allows you to make informed comparisons between products so you can select
the ones that best suit your needs.
Can you tell me the GDA for sugar for a toddler and a baby? The only guidelines I can find on the site are for a child 5-10 years.
Further details on GDAs for children are available on the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) website. The youngest age band that the IGD set GDAs values for was 4-6 year olds - for
more information view: IGD Best Practice Guidance on the Presentation of Guideline Daily Amounts.
For details of the nutrient requirements of babies/toddlers, the British Nutrition Foundation website is a very useful source of information.
Can I simply add the big 4 in nutritional values and only two of the GDA icons eg Calories (energy) and saturated fat on my label?
Nutrition labelling is voluntary, unless a nutrition claim is made, so it is
fine to have Big 4 (eg, energy, protein, carbohydrate and fat) in the nutrition
table. However we recommend that the full GDA label (all 5 icons) is represented on the label, and not just two GDA icons. FDF has produced a style guide to ensure labelling consistency across the products and brands.
If you have a small pack, FDF and CIAA (the European Confederation of the Food
and drink industries) recommendation is to simply add the Energy GDA icon (calories). This is what you would see on the chocolate or cereal bars for example.
Having two icons would give the impression that you are “cherry picking” the
nutrients that are more convenient for you rather than making as much
available to consumers as possible.
GDA labels FAQs
Working on my own recipe for an organic drink. How do I go about getting the information for the labels?
If you want to know the contents of the drink for the purposes of the back of
pack nutrition table, you will need to get it analysed by a food technologist
like Leatherhead Food International or Campden BRI.
You will need to calculate the nutritional value of your drink per 100ml and
per portion/pack depending how big your bottles are. You can then use our style guide for GDAs as a guideline to develop on your pack a visually consistent GDA front-of-pack
Do you have any standard GDA Label? So that we just have to fill it up with our product information
You may find the empty GDA templates to download from here: GDA icons templates.
Does the 90g of sugar for a women's GDA include natural sugars?
Women's GDA of 90g total sugars does include natural sugars from foods such as
fruit, vegetables, dairy products and cereals, and also includes sugars added to
processed foods and drinks.
What are GDA labels for?
GDA labels show the level of calories, sugars, fat, saturates (saturated fat) and salt contained in a suggested portion of food and, more importantly, tell you what
percentage of your Guideline Daily Amount for calories, sugars, fat, saturates
and salt, each portion comprises.
This enables you to build a picture of what you are eating in the context of
your whole diet and make a better informed choice about what you are eating.
Is there a guideline towards regulating the size of the label? If so what is the suggested size relative to the product?
Food and drink manufacturers across Europe who apply GDA labelling to their
products do so voluntarily. The Food and Drink Federation backs the GDA scheme and
as such has developed an industry style guide for its members. In this style guide you will find information relating to the
size of the GDA icon for certain packaging sizes.
On a separate note, The Food Information Proposal is a piece of regulation
currently being negotiated in Europe which will govern food labelling. On 16 June
2010 MEPs voted in plenary in the European Parliament on the Food Information
MEPs supported GDAs on a mandatory basis and energy front of pack; FDF members
have long supported GDA labelling as the best way to help consumers make informed
choices about the food they buy.
This is only the first step in a lengthy process to agree the Regulation. The
Council is also negotiating the dossier, and the European Parliament is due to
have a second reading in Spring 2011. The Food information proposal contains
guidelines on labelling legibility and font size. More information about the
Food information proposal.
Why don't you colour code GDA labels?
GDA labelling is based on per portion information whilst Traffic Light labelling
is applied per 100g. Combining the two approaches across all categories
some confusing results.
For example a 10g portion of a spread containing 0.2g of salt would have a red
label for salt, whilst a ready meal containing 2.2g of salt would have an amber label. Another
example is ketchup, which would be labelled red for sugar (based on 100g), but a normal 20g serving would only contain 5% of the GDA and
lets face it, who eats 100g of ketchup in one go?
Consumers pay more attention to red than green. Food Standards Agency (FSA)
research showed that if a product had more than two red labels, consumers would
reject it as too unhealthy. While this may be the desired result, it would also
consumers may reject many products that include a significant amount of
essential nutrients such as cheese, yoghurt or nuts. If GDAs are colour coded, consumers are more
likely to make a snap judgement based on the colour of the GDA rather than the
actual GDA percentage.
Similarly, it may be difficult for a consumer to interpret the overall
nutritional 'worth' of a product that displays, for example, two red lights and
lights, even if this sits alongside GDA values.
Within the FSA scheme colour bands are wide, so a product would have an amber
colour for salt, if it contained anything between 0.3g and 1.5g per 100g. A product with 5% of
the GDA for salt, would therefore be coded the same as something with 25% of
GDA for salt, so shoppers may not spot the healthier option.
Traffic Light colour codes are recommended by the FSA for certain composite
foods and they publicly acknowledge that they are not intended for use across
The food industry have demonstrated that GDA labels are effective in their current form and adding a further level of complexity by
overlaying colours may not serve to simplify them at all. We believe that the
key to making consumers more food literate lies in encouraging them to look at
what's inside the food they are buying and think about it in the context of their
What is the GDA for adults and children for carbohydrate?
The GDA for carbohydrates for a 5-10 years old child is 220g. Please see this table in this section of our website. The GDAs for the purpose of labelling are for
There is currently a revision of the labelling legislation taking place in
Brussels and it will include GDA values.
GDAs explained FAQs
What does GDA stand for?
GDA stands for Guideline Daily Amount and is the recommended amount of specific
nutrients an adult should consume each day.
Why did the food industry implement GDA labels?
GDAs and nutrition information have been available on the back of packs for
Therefore, introducing a shorthand version of this information on the front of
packs was a logical step for industry in seeking to make labelling clearer and
more accessible for people.
The use of GDAs on food labels provides an accurate means for people to tell if
a product contains a higher or lower amount of a particular nutrient, compared
to another product. This enables small but positive changes to their diet.
Being able to quickly identify the levels of nutrients in a product also makes it simple for you to focus on the nutrients of interest
you, e.g. calories, fat or sugars. Again you can then see more clearly how to
simple changes to improve your diet.
More information about Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) explained.
Where can I find information about the GDA's for salt, sugar etc?
The GDAs for women, men and children can be found on the following page of our
website: GDAs explained.
Please remember tha GDAs are maximum levels and not targets (apart from fibre);
this means that you should try not to go above those levels.
What is the difference between GDA and RDA?
On a food label you will often see Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) provided for
energy and some nutrients like fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt. GDAs have
been defined for men, women and children of different ages, but what you usually
see are the values for an 'average' adult.
Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) are different to GDAs, and only relate to
vitamins and minerals. You will only see RDAs on food labels when the amounts of
vitamins and minerals present are stated, in which case it is a legal requirement
to also state the %RDA. These values are defined in food labelling legislation.
How they are defined varies depending on the vitamin or mineral but will
include consideration of the scientific evidence regarding prevention of disease,
health benefits and safety levels of high intakes.
Last reviewed: 21 Nov 2011