The CIAA is set to launch a common nutrition labelling scheme recommended for use by the food and drink industries across the EU tomorrow.
The association, which represents the European food and drink industry, will announce the scheme to the European Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health in Brussels.
"This labelling recommendation comes as a result of our commitments to the EU Platform to look at how to improve food labels in Europe," said Jean Martin, CIAA president.
It takes into account comments and suggestions from stakeholders such as consumer groups, to better communicate nutrient information to busy shoppers."
The initiative underlines Europe's increasing focus on obesity, and how both industry and regulators are attempting to address the issue.
"A comprehensive strategy is needed to stem the rise in obesity in Europe, combining legislative and non-legislative initiatives," said health and consumer protection commissioner Markos Kyprianou recently.
"In parallel to the consultation launched by our Green Paper on Nutrition, our proposal on health claims and a review of food labelling legislation, the Commission is working with a wide range of players across the public, private and non-governmental sectors."
The CIAA recommendation, which includes front-of-pack and back-of-pack nutrition labelling, is based on a uniform list of nutrients, nutrition information per serving and the introduction of Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs).
The GDA recommendations used in the CIAA nutrition labelling scheme are based on the nutritional needs of an average adult, as derived from international, EU and government guidelines. GDAs, says the CIAA, represent a science-based and non-discriminatory system for providing easy-to-use guidance to consumers.
In addition, the association claims that a key element of the system is the consistency of the nutrition information that will be provided to consumers across Europe, on the basis of a common framework that will enable them to easily understand the nutritional content of food and drink products.
"Even though this is a voluntary recommendation we hope and expect a critical mass of companies to work rapidly towards adoption of the principles behind this system," said Martin.
"Achieving healthier lifestyles will require more than food labelling changes, notably efforts by other stakeholders to promote increased physical activity and broadly-based consumer education. However, with this initiative CIAA is making a substantial contribution to helping people make better informed dietary choices.
The EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, which was launched in March 2005, brings together 34 key players from the food industry and civil society to boost voluntary initiatives across the EU.
The Platform has now released summaries of its 2005 baseline and 2006 commitments for action. These represent a first set of 96 pledges its members have made to tackle obesity across the EU, including information campaigns to promote healthy lifestyles, reducing amounts of sugar and salt in food, improving nutritional information on packages and pledging not to market directly to children.