Could France follow UK's lead in traffic light labelling?

19th June 2014 - Fine Cut
Could France follow UK's lead in traffic light labelling?

Plans for a new colour-coding system of food labelling is planned for France, similar to that already used in the UK.

This is according to the French press, which has reported the scheme will be included in a new bill in order to provide consumers with more information about products and improve public health.

It mirrors the traffic light system already employed by manufacturers in Britain on food packaging to identify whether or not products have high levels of salt, sugar and fat in them.

Le Monde claims information will have to be clearly placed on the front of packaging, with a recent petition by medical experts and consumer organisations calling for clearer food labelling attracting 22,000 signatures.

France's health and social affairs minister Marisol Touraine is proposing the wide-ranging health bill this week, according to Connexion France, with provisions included to give consumers greater labelling information about nutritional values through the use of five colour codes ranging from red to green for sugar, fat, salt and calorie content.

Britain's traffic light food labelling system is voluntary and it is currently the subject of an investigation by the European Commission into complaints by member states that it is unfair as "adoption of such a hybrid food labelling scheme in the UK would fragment the issue of nutrition labelling in the European Union (EU)", according to Reuters.

The enquiry will explore whether the UK scheme is compatible with EU regulations regarding the free movement of goods, after nations including Italy complained that certain products, - such as cheese - could be labelled with a warning light because of the relatively high fat content.

Britain has denied that the system breaches EU law and a spokesman said: "It is the result of over 11 years of research to identify a label that consumers can use at a glance to identify healthier choices and to highlight those foods that are high in salt, fat, saturated fat and sugar."

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