Food sector lobbies for more labelling self-regulation
back from proposals for additional labelling requirements and allow
the industry to regulate the information it provides to consumers.
A policy paper was issued this week by the Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries of the European Union (CIAA) after the EU's directorate for health and consumer protection opened a consultation on the future of EU labelling legislation.
The consultation paper, issued in February, addresses consumer information, better regulation and boosting the food industry's competitiveness.
The CIAA describes the EU's current labelling regulations as out-of-date, "complicated, difficult to apply, control and understand".
The CIAA says a better labelling approach should define information as to whether it is on the package, or provided by the manufacturer through other means.
Essential information will be provided on the lable and other information could be given through retailers, manufacturers, the Internet and call in line, the CIAA suggests.
Revamping the EU's labelling regulations should also aim to reduce the administrative burden, such as by compiling provisions into a single piece of legislation, the CIAA stated.
The proposed legislation should not be too detailed or prescriptive, leaving room for processors to adapt to changing consumer needs and interests.
The CIAA supports the UK and the Netherlands positions on the issue of food labelling as presented at a conference in February 2006.
Proposals include the removal of "superfluous labelling obligations such as the energy content and the packaging gases used for the product. The CIAA also wants a reduction in multi-lingual requirements, symbols and abbreviations.
Transition periods must be put in place for new labelling requirements.
Another area of concern is the issue of product liability in terms of labelling using such terms as "COT", "LOT", and "may contain" .
Product liability is also a major issue due to new traceability requirements and processors are worried that tracking and identifying sources of food borne sicknesses may land them in court.
Detailed comments address issues on nutritional labelling, which the CIAA wants to remain voluntary rather then be enshrined by law.
The document also discusses the CIAA's policy on mislabelled products, information on geographic origin, genetically modified ingredients, and health warnings on alcoholic beverages,