EU: unified version for food labels across all states?
foodstuffs, and accompanying cost-savings, as Europe's executive
arm calls for standardised labels across the EU, writes Lindsey
The European food industry could see a unified version of labels on foodstuffs, and accompanying cost-savings, as Europe's executive arm calls for standardised labels across the EU.
EU industry commissioner Guenter Verheugen said the Brussels-based commission wants to streamline the various laws into a single directive.
"National laws vary, leading to increased costs for producers for packaging and labelling," news reports this week quote the Commission as saying.
According to the reports, Brussels has already announced consultations on its proposals for EU-wide labelling norms.
Commissioner Verheugen sees streamlining of the various laws will bring considerable savings for industry.
"With tests and interpretations of the law being the same in all member states, manufacturers can look forward to significant cost reductions," says Verheugen, cite the news reports.
The Commission hopes that by aligning EU rules to international standards, industry will have more flexibility in marketing their products "anywhere in the world without needing to re-label them."
Consumer groups are likely to welcome the move.
In September last year, the Brussels-based group BEUC, warned that food makers needed to tidy up their food labels to help confused consumers understand the nutritional value of a food products."We want a simple, clear, understandable European system, which will enable consumers to easily identify the nutritional quality of products,"said the group.
For the consumer group, the adoption of Commission proposals - currently under discussion by member states - on nutrition and health claims and on the fortification of food is vital for transparency and clearer labels.
"Consumers need good nutritional information," said Jim Murray, BEUC director, "but they also need protection against health and nutritional claims that don't tell the whole story."
The commission is calling for clearer guidelines for health claims on food, which will see an end to labels declaring "90 per cent fat free" or "reduces your calorie intake." Instead, all health claims will have to be based on scientific evidence, and thresholds for all nutrition claims have been established.