Manufacturers welcome positive vote to empower consumers to make more informed food choices

Date

17 Jun 2010

Sections

Agriculture & Food
Health & Consumers

Press release

(Brussels, 16 June 2010) The CIAA (Confederation of the food and drink industries of the EU) welcomes the positive signal sent by Members of the European Parliament today on a number of key issues within the First Reading vote on the food information to consumers proposal.

While we are still trying to fully understand the outcome of today’s vote, we see the endorsement by MEPs for GDAs within the scope of the Commission’s proposal as a positive step in the right direction not only for consumers (many of whom have become increasingly familiar with the scheme and who understand and use it to make informed food choices) but also for manufacturers who have implemented Guideline Daily Amounts over the past number of years.

CIAA has always supported voluntary GDA labelling.

Moreover, MEPs have also clearly rejected attempts to introduce both traffic lights and the so-called ‘hybrid scheme’, both of which fail to take into account the place of a foodstuff in the context of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. EU food and drink manufacturers welcome this development.

We welcome the deletion of national provisions and schemes within the Commission's proposal; we believe this would have confused consumers and further fragmented the EU Single Market creating additional burdens for industry operating across several markets. Today’s outcome sends a positive message that we need harmonised rules across the EU.

With regard to nutrition labelling, while we are still trying to get a better understanding of the outcome of this part of today’s vote, it appears that MEPs have endorsed the provision of ‘Big 10’ nutrients as part of the mandatory nutrition declaration. CIAA members are in favour of providing the mandatory information per 100g/ml for ‘Big 8’ nutrients on the back-of-pack, so we consider that this has gone a step too far to include both natural and artificial transfats, which may lead to an information overload for consumers. Moreover, today’s vote disregards the recent EFSA opinion on transfats which confirmed that current levels of dietary exposure were not at a level of public concern.

On legibility, MEPs have clearly recognised that this is a complex issue and we see today's result as a positive one with the option to draw up a set of guidelines which would take into account a number of important variables. EU food and drink manufacturers have already compiled a set of industry best practice guidelines as a workable solution and we welcome the opportunity to work with stakeholders on this matter in future.

Finally, we are concerned by the multiple amendments adopted on country of origin labelling which would extend mandatory origin labelling to several specific food categories including single ingredient products. This approach does not take into account the sufficient and existing EU legislation in this area with which manufacturers already fully comply.

Speaking following the vote, CIAA Director General, Mella Frewen said:

‘’Today’s vote on the food information to consumers proposal represents a very important step in the EU legislative process during which democratically-elected Members of the European Parliament have had their say on the Commission’s draft law.

Member States will now discuss this proposal over the coming months and take the Parliament’s First Reading into account.

Going forward, EU food and drink manufacturer will continue to closely follow the discussions on this key piece of legislation for our industry in an effort to build on the efforts that have already been implemented on a voluntary basis – namely, the GDA scheme among others, to ensure that the information applied 'on pack' for consumers is clear and easyto- understand at the end of this legislative process.’’

-ENDS

For further information please contact:

Lisa McCooey, Director, Communications (CIAA), Tel: +32 2 514 11 11 (office), +32 476 911 300 (mobile), l.mccooey@ciaa.eu

CIAA represents the European food and drink industry – the largest manufacturing sector, major employer and exporter in the EU. CIAA’s mission is to help proactively develop an environment in which all European food and drink companies, whatever their size, can compete effectively for sustainable growth meeting the needs of the consumers and playing their part in delivering the targets set by the Lisbon declaration of the European Council. CIAA membership is made up of 26 national federations, 26 European sector associations and 20 major food and drink companies.

For more information on CIAA and its activities, visit: www.ciaa.eu

http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/scdoc/1461.htm