Italy has complained vociferously about the UK scheme

Italy has complained vociferously about the UK scheme

EU member states have decided The European Commission should examine the UK's front-of-pack labelling system after complaints from Italy.

Member state ministers meeting as the Council of the European Union (EU) have said Brussels should investigate if the labels undermine the principles of the functioning of the EU's internal market.

Italy claims the UK’s ‘hybrid’ scheme mixing traffic light colours with reference intakes, formerly known as guideline daily amounts (GDAs), affects the free circulation of goods in the EU, as well as the correct information for consumers.

However, the likely conclusion of a Commission examination is uncertain. In a statement issued late Friday, the Commission stressed the UK system was voluntary for food manufacturers and was made possible by current legislation on labeling.

The British delegation said the UK would continue monitoring to guarantee that it operated without creating obstacles in the functioning of the internal market.

In its submission, seen by just-food, the Italian delegation argued: "Red labelling is clearly aimed at influencing the consumers’ choice. This is an infringement of the internal market. The consumer will be led not to buy at all a red-labelled product, since that food will be perceived as a bad food for health, regardless of any dietary consideration."

Major manufacturers and retailers have adopted the scheme, which was introduced voluntarily in June.

Italy voiced its opposition to the scheme in December. It claimed food operators are pressured to comply, particularly small firms and those supplying own-label products to retailers.

Italy expressed concern the scheme would spill over into other EU states, fragmenting the internal market and placing "extra unjustified burdens and related costs" on the industry.