FOODSTUFFS : NUTRITION LABELLING: ENVI VOTE DRAWS MIXED REACTIONS.
Reactions to the adoption by the European Parliament's Committee on Environment (ENVI), on 19 April, of a proposal on nutrition labelling varied greatly: food manufacturers and consumer representatives did not see things in the same way. The former criticised MEPs' idea of minimum font size or compulsory country of origin labelling (COOL) for some foods, while the European Consumers Organisation BEUC claims that this is a "disservice to consumers". The organisation says that MEPs' rejection of compulsory nutrition information on the front of the packet is contrary to the interests of consumers trying to make healthy food choices. "This vote means that consumers will not be able to easily find and compare crucial information on the quantity of fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar there is in a food product," commented BEUC Director-General Monique Goyens.
The Confederation of Food and Drink Industries of the EU (CIAA) notes the "positive signals" sent by MEPs. "Food manufacturers welcome the outcome on nutrition labelling, which places eight nutrients in the same field of vision," said the organisation. However, CIAA regrets that trans-fats (TFAs) have been added to the list. According to the organisation, this is "a step too far" and TFAs should be labelled on a voluntary basis only, as proposed by the Council. "The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has confirmed that TFAs do not pose a source of public health concern," it noted.
The CIAA also regrets that MEPs are supporting mandatory country of origin labelling - it is compulsory for meat, poultry, milk and dairy products, fruit and vegetables as well as meat, poultry and fish when they are used as an ingredient in a processed product. "MEPs have voted in favour of the mandatory extension of existing rules (eg for single ingredient products) without considering calls from several member states, the European Commission and industry for an impact assessment to define if this would bring added value to the consumer and the feasibility and practicability of industry to implement such rules. This is disappointing," CIAA said,
The vote by the ENVI MEPs pre-empts Parliament's position in second reading. The co-legislators will meet, on 10 May, for informal three-way talks, in the hope of closing this file in second reading. The regulation will then repeal Directives 2000/13/EC, 90/496/EEC, 87/250/EEC, 94/54/EC, 1999/10/EC, 2002/67/EC, 2004/77/EC and Regulation (EC) 608/2004.