The NCC, a policy body funded by the Department of Trade and Industry, has condemned supermarkets for failing to meet healthy eating standards in the wake of the government's White Paper on public health.
Its report, 'Rating retailers for health', assesses supermarkets according to a health responsibility index, with Morrisons scoring only two out of 10. The top retailer is Waitrose, with six-and-a-half points. Sainsbury's and Tesco came in second and fifth respectively, with the Co-op fourth, Asda eighth and Somerfield ninth.
The NCC used four key measures in its health index: nutritional value of own-label processed foods; clarity of labelling; in-store promotion of healthy versus less healthy foods; and in-store information for customers on healthy eating.
The NCC found that none of the retailers tested scored well across all criteria. As a result, it is supporting the White Paper recommendation that retailers reduce salt, fat and sugar in processed foods. It is also endorsing recommendations for on-pack signposting.
'It is worrying that retailers with a high proportion of lower-income shoppers appear to reinforce the health inequalities between rich and poor,' said NCC chairwoman Deirdre Hutton. 'The Co-op was the one company that bucked this trend.'