Under a compromise agreed by the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers food producers will be allowed to make promotional claims in respect of fat, sugar or salt provided that the other two ingredients comply with EU regulation or if the label states the product has a “high content” of them.

New legislation also states that nutritional profiles – the appropriate ratios of salt, sugar and fat in any given product – will be laid down by the European Commission in consultation with the food industry and consumer bodies on the basis of information provided by the European Food Safety Authority.

In approving the package yesterday by an overwhelming majority (614 votes for, 8 against) the Parliament accepted the compromise worked out last week with ministers and has thus averted the need for a potentially lengthy and divisive conciliation process. It is now likely to become law within a few weeks.

In other areas the directives – the Nutrition Labelling of Foodstuffs and the Addition of Vitamins and Minerals to Foods – allow for accelerated approval procedures for most new foods and say that foods used before 2006 and which are not included in the annex can continue to be used for 3 years after the regulation enters into force.