Major food producers keep calories front of pack

Date

15 Nov 2012

Sections

Health & Consumers

Press release

Major food producers keep calories front of pack

Brussels, 14 Nov 2012 – Twelve leading European food & beverage manufacturers and retailers* have committed today to harmonizing nutrition labelling and information across all markets in the European Union (EU). Reacting to a new EU regulation on food labelling, the commitment will ensure consumers have access to consistent, meaningful nutritional information on products. On a voluntary basis, in addi-tion to the new legal requirements, calorie information will continue to be available on the front of pack.

The new EU Regulation on Food Information to Consumers provides a legal framework for voluntary Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) labelling, with some minor changes to the scheme as introduced six years ago (e.g., calorie information on front-of-pack to be presented per 100g/ml in addition to information per portion). The twelve companies will implement these changes by the end of 2014, in line with new guide-lines by FoodDrinkEurope and EuroCommerce for the implementation of the new EU Regulation.

The commitment builds on the industry’s voluntary labelling of Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) put in place six years before European legislation was introduced. It will empower consumers to make informed choices and to build balanced diets, wherever they are in Europe.

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*Coca-Cola, Danone, Ferrero, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Mondelēz, Mars, Metro, Nestlé, Orangina-Schweppes, Pepsico, Unilever

For more, background information on Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) see the attached, full statement “Commitment on continuous labelling of Guideline Daily Amounts. For a consistent, harmonized nutrition labelling scheme in the EU”.

Media contact / Co-chairs of GDA companies working group:

  • Nikolaus Tacke, Director European Government Affairs, Coca-Cola Europe T +32 (0)2 559 22 42, M +32 (0)472 600 640, E ntacke@coca-cola.com 
  • Christiaan Prins, Deputy Head European External Affairs, Unilever T +32 (0)2 287 80, M +32 (0)498 586 268, E christiaan.prins@unilever.com

Commitment on continuous labelling of Guideline Daily Amounts

For a consistent, harmonized nutrition labelling scheme in the EU

Brussels, 14 November 2012

The commitment

The signatories, twelve major European food & beverage manufacturers and retailers, commit to continue us-ing voluntary Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) labelling on their products across all markets in the European Un-ion, as a consistent, harmonised scheme for voluntary nutrition labelling in the European Union. By taking this step, these leading companies follow the recommendation to implement voluntary GDAs by FoodDrinkEurope(1) and its respective commitment that was presented to the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health(2) on 14 November 2012.

In line with adapted industry guidelines for food labelling in the regulatory framework of the new EU Regula-tion on food information to consumers3, jointly developed by FoodDrinkEurope and EuroCommerce4, this commitment aims at providing consistency and transparency for consumers on the provision of additional, vol-untary nutrition information in the future.

This commitment is a joint initiative of food & beverage companies and retailers who share the common goal of providing simple, factual nutrition information to help consumers make informed choices and build balanced diets. Since 2006, signatory members have implemented a clear, informative and user-friendly nutrition label-ling system applying monochrome GDAs per portion, providing nutrition information on-pack for calories, sug-ars, fat, saturated fat and sodium/salt.



Continued voluntary information in addition to legal requirements

The first commitment of European food & beverage companies and retailers to implement voluntary GDA la-belling across the EU was submitted in 2006 in the absence of relevant legislation on nutrition labelling, as a substantial element of self-regulation promoted by a responsible industry. As a key tool in the fight against overweight and obesity, it was based on a broad agreement that meaningful information was needed to em-power consumers to make informed choices, presented in 2006 to the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, and fulfilled by 2009.

In 2011, the new regulation on food information to consumers was adopted, providing for a mandatory nutri-tion table on the back of the pack of food products, and for the possibility to present voluntary GDA infor-mation on either back- or front-of-pack. As self-regulation has been codified by legislation, the 2006 commit-ment for voluntary labelling can now be seen as fulfilled.

However, we believe that voluntary nutrition information on top of the new mandatory provisions, including GDA labelling, remains important and a crucial tool for consumers. We therefore renew our commitment to use voluntary GDA labelling on our products in the EU, in the framework of the new regulation, and to adapt our packaging accordingly by the end of 2014(5).



Changes to the GDA scheme

The new EU regulation has introduced some changes to the way voluntary labelling must be applied in the fu-ture. The key element of voluntary labelling, the provision of energy information on the front of the pack, re-mains practically unchanged; only now the energy value has to be presented per 100g/100ml in addition to information per portion.

On the back of the pack, in addition to the mandatory information per 100g/100ml in the nutrition table, vol-untary information can be given per portion, both in terms of absolute values as well as percentages of daily intake. If provided, this voluntary GDA information has to be presented within the mandatory nutrition table.

Guidelines to implement this new regulatory framework in detail have been developed jointly by FoodDrinkEurope and EuroCommerce, and will be applied by the signatory companies for the implementation of their renewed commitment accordingly.

Scientifically sound

GDAs provide nutrition information per portion of a product, in addition to the nutrition table with values per 100g/100ml. Information is given on calories, sugars, fat, saturated fat and sodium/salt, both in absolute values and as a percentage of guideline daily amounts. A GDA icon on energy (or on energy plus fat, saturates, sugars and salt) is shown on the front of the pack to provide at-a-glance information on the nutritional content of the product.

GDAs are science-based, underpinned by nutrition recommendations from the Eurodiet project(6). The reference values used in the GDA scheme have been assessed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as scientifi-cally sound(7) and included in the new regulation on food information to consumers accordingly. The portions on which GDAs are based have been set by the individual European food sectors according to a combination of several factors, including intake data, product density, fortification policy and eating patterns. Recent research provides “evidence that when nutrition information per portion is present on pack in addition to per 100g/ml information, it helps consumers to use nutrition information correctly and quickly”(8).

Research has indicated that more than 80% of consumers were able to determine the healthier product by us-ing GDAs(9), and we believe that the use of GDAs in addition to the nutrition table as seen on millions of packs across Europe today provide consumers with relevant per portion information that they can use to make better informed choices.

Broad industry support

Currently, virtually 100% of the eligible product portfolio marketed by the signatories features GDA labelling. However, the initiative is not simply limited to large companies. By 2009, the due date of our first commitment, around 60% of medium-sized and more than 35% of small companies were using or planning to use GDAs on their products. Since then, several thousand brands sold in the EU carry GDA labels, representing more than 25% of the market, rising to 63% in the UK, for example(10).

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1 Europe‘s umbrella organisation of food & beverage associations and manufacturers; see www.fooddrinkeurope.eu.

2 The Platform is a stakeholder forum for actors at European level who can commit their membership to engage in concrete actions designed to contain or reverse current trends in overweight and obesity; see http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_determi-nants/life_style/nutrition/platform/platform_en.htm. It is chaired by the European Commission and currently has more than 30 members from health organisations, NGOs and industry bodies.

3 Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on the provision of food in-formation to consumers; see http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2011:304:0018:0063:EN:PDF.

4 EuroCommerce is the umbrella organisation of European retailers; see www.eurocommerce.be.

5 According to Art. 55 of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011, food products in the EU have to bear a nutrition declaration by 13 December 2016 at the latest. Where a nutrition declaration is provided already today, on a voluntary basis (as it is the case for the signatory companies), this nutrition declaration has to comply with the provisions of that regulation by 13 December 2014 already. This also applies to the current voluntary GDA labelling on front-of-pack, which by 13 Dec 2014 either has to be dropped or adapted to the new provisions.

6 See www.eurodiet.com.

7 EFSA 2009: Scientific Opinion of the Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies of 13 March 2009; see www.efsa.euro-pa.eu/EFSA/efsa_locale-1178620753812_1211902511922.htm.

8 EUFIC 2011: Consumer response to portion information on food and drink packaging – A pan-European study. EUFIC Forum n° 5; see www.eufic.org/article/en/expid/forum5-Consumer-response-portion-information-food-drink-packaging/.

9 EUFIC 2009: Pan-European consumer research on in-store observation, understanding & use of nutrition information on food labels, combined with assessing nutrition knowledge, February 2008 - February 2009, EUFIC Forum N° 4, February 2009; see www.eufic.org/upl/1/en/doc/Pan-EU%20executive%20summary%20FINAL.pdf.

10 FLABEL 2009: Food labelling to Advance Better Education for Life (FLABEL), Assessment of consumer exposure to nutrition in-formation on food labels. Penetration study across the EU-27 plus Turkey, April 2009; see http://flabel.org/en/upload/ WP1%20first%20FLABEL%20results.pdf

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