Food labelling debate continues despite new deal

13th December 2010 - Fine Cut

The food labelling debate looks set to continue after the European Parliament criticised proposals from MEPs labelling them a "sloppy deal."

As reported by BBC News, ministers agreed that product labels must clearly state nutrients including fats and sugars; and if the product it is meat, it must also show the country of origin. However, ministers rejected MEPs demands for the front of the pack to contain key nutritional information on the front of the pack.

An EU council statement issued on behalf of the consumer affairs ministers said: "All elements of the nutrition declaration should appear together in the same field of vision but some elements may be repeated on the front of pack."

It was agreed that labels should explain the energy value and the quantities of some nutrients such as fats, carbohydrates, protein, sugars and salt should be compulsory. It would be compulsory for pork, lamb and poultry products to have country of origin labelling, like the rule that already applies to beef in the EU.

In June, MEPs showed their support from more uniform labelling, but rejected the implementation of traffic-light codes in favour of guideline daily amounts. There will be a second reading in Parliament before the law comes in and manufacturers would have a minimum of three years to update their labels accordingly.

Ministers agreed that the energy value and amounts of key nutrients should be expressed per 100g or per 100ml, but may also be indicated "as a percentage of reference intakes."

The 27 consumer affairs ministers were cited in Packaging News as saying: "Food business operators could also use additional forms of expression or presentation, as long as certain conditions are met (e.g they do not mislead consumers and are supported by evidence of understanding of such forms of expression or presentation by the average consumer.)"

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