Traffic light food labelling could have a hefty impact on local food producers, delegates at the South West Excellence food conference were told.

Regional NFU director Anthony Gibson said the Food Standards Agency proposal to label food with red, amber or green symbols depending on the amount of salt, fat and calories contained was “a load of nonsense”.

“People should be given the facts and allowed to make up their own minds,” he said.

Keynote speaker and eccentric TV cook Clarissa Dickson-Wright also agreed.

Tesco has already rejected the FSA recommendations and set up its own health labelling.

It says proposals are too simplistic and potentially misleading because products as different as cola and apple juice would both be coded amber for sugar.

A spokeswoman for the FSA said the agency was trying to encourage manufacturers to put traffic lights on breakfast cereals, ready meals, sausages, pies, burgers, pizzas and sandwiches.