The European Union yesterday moved to impose standard nutritional information on food labelling across 27 countries.The rules are an attempt to counter the epidemic of obesity in Europe, but disappointed some UK health charities by not making the 'traffic light' system mandatory.

Under new rules unveiled by the European Commission, all prepackaged food will need to clearly display amounts of sugar, salt, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates and energy on the front of packaging.

EU health commissioner Markos Kyprianou said: "Food labels can have a huge influence on consumers' purchasing decisions.

"Confusing, overloaded or misleading labels can be more of a hindrance than a help to the consumer."