The European Commission is to propose a new amendment to EU labelling laws, which would ensure that food products packaging carry a full list of foodstuffs used to make compound ingredients. Consumer protection Commissioner David Byrne told a Conference on Nutrition and Health in Europe in Paris: "This new labelling will ensure optimal consumer information about the composition of a food product. It will also provide the necessary information for those consumers who for health or ethical reasons avoid certain ingredients."

The proposals will also help consumers who suffer from food allergies "by giving them comprehensive information about the composition of products." Mr Byrne said that by law "certain substances, recognised scientifically as being the source of allergies or food intolerance, should be included in the list of ingredients."

He added that the Commission would propose a directive harmonising national rules on claims made about the nutritional and functional benefits of food products.

By Keith Nuthall, just-food.com correspondent