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EU to reassess UK traffic light labels

By Caroline Scott-Thomas+

24-Feb-2014

The European Commission has said it will investigate the impact of the UK’s voluntary traffic light nutrition labelling scheme, after several EU member states led by the Italian delegation complained that it could harm EU trading.

The Italian delegation brought the issue to a Council meeting on competitiveness last week, after it also brought its case to the Council in December. The UK’s traffic light labels assign green, amber and red colours front-of-pack for sugar, salt, fat and calorie levels, alongside EU-mandated reference intakes (RIs). Italy claims the UK scheme could harm trade in European traditional goods and the free circulation of goods in the EU internal market.

The Commission said in a statement on Friday that the UK’s hybrid nutrition labelling proposals had “triggered vivid reactions” and it would assess the system’s conformity with EU law and its impact on the internal market.

The UK government has said that it is in compliance with the law, which allows for voluntary nutrition labelling programmes alongside those required under the upcoming Provision of Food Information for Consumers (FIC) regulation.

Last week, the UEAPME (the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises) wrote to representatives ahead of the Competitiveness Council meeting in Brussels, claiming that the UK’s traffic light nutrition labels would “seriously hinder the free movement of food products within the European internal market, causing extra unjustified burdens and costs for the EU food industry, in particular SMEs”.

The association said that not adding the labels could significantly affect where companies could sell their products, while adding the labels could reduce sales.

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