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Thursday, 07 July 2011

Food labels: clearer information for consumers

Food shoppers will be able to make better informed, healthier choices as the result of new EU food labelling rules approved by MEPs on Wednesday. Labels will have to spell out a food's energy content as well as fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, sugar, protein and salt levels, in a way that makes them easy for consumers to read. MEP Renate Sommer (EPP, DE), who led Parliament's team in successful negotiations with the Council, said in the debate ahead of the vote: "Despite political and ideological differences in the EP, despite national ideological convictions, we have come up with a good compromise.  The new rules are supposed to provide more and better information to consumers so they can make informed choices when buying.  But is more than that: the food industry should benefit too. There should be more legal certainty, less bureaucracy and better legislation in general. (...) this is very important for SMEs (...) more than 80 percent of the European food sector is SMEs." Under the new rules, the energy content and amounts of fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sugars, protein and salt must all be stated in a legible tabular form on the packaging, together and in the same field of vision. All this information has to be expressed per 100g or per 100ml. It may also, in addition, be expressed per portion,Parliament approved the new food labelling rules by 606 votes to 46, with 26 abstentions. Once the legislation is published in the EU Official Journal, food companies will have three years to adapt to most of the rules, but five years for the rules on nutrition values.

Source: European Parliament