MEPs agree labelling regulations

MEPs agree labelling regulations

The European Parliament has pressed ahead with its proposals that food labels should include mandatory nutritional and country-of-origin information.

MEPs on the Parliament's environment committee yesterday (19 April) issued draft legislation on Europe-wide labelling regulations that aims to "modernise, simplify and clarify" food labelling within the EU.

If passed by the European Council of Ministers, the legislation would change existing rules on information that is compulsory - such as list of ingredients, "best before" or "use by" dates or specific conditions of use.

The proposed regulation would require food manufacturers to list key nutritional information, such as energy content, fat levels, saturated fat, artificial trans fats, carbohydrates, sugars, protein and salt. These would be included on packaging in a "legible tabular form" on the back of the packaging, and information would need to be expressed per 100g or 100ml s well as per portion. GDA information would not be compulsory.

MEPs also want an indication of the "date of first freezing" for frozen unprocessed meat, poultry and fish.

On the controversial issue of country of origin labelling, MEPs want to extend existing requirements to include all meat and poultry, milk and dairy products and other single-ingredient products. They also voted for a requirement to state the country of provenance for meat, poultry and fish when used as an ingredient in processed food.

While the MEPs largely tightened up the legislation on the table, they did agree a number of exceptions to the rules - including alcoholic drinks, gift packages, seasonal confectionery, and non-prepacked food intended for immediate consumption.

The committee approved the proposals with 57 votes in favour, four against and one abstention, giving rapporteur and German MEP Renate Sommer "a strong mandate" to enter into negotiations with the Council. Her aim will be to achieve a second-reading agreement with the Council ahead of the Parliament's plenary vote in July, the MEPs said.

Once the legislation is adopted, food businesses will have three years to adapt to the rules and another two years to apply the rules on the nutritional declaration.