EC must push for nutritional labelling
labelling without stifling innovation, said Robert Madelin,
director of the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity
The EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity & Health was launched in March 2005 as an informal experiment. Two years on, and Dr. Madelin, DG Sanco's Director General, says that the platform has been part of the important discussion regarding nutritional labelling. In a candid interview with European Food Information Council (EUFIC) director general Josephine Wills, Dr. Madelin said that, while the commission must accelerate front-of-pack labelling, it is important to ensure that there is sufficient flexibility in the legislative proposal on nutrition labelling, due for release this year. He explained that the development of "front of pack" nutrition labelling is clearly good for consumers and recognised that a period of at least two years will be required to identify the system that works best. Josephine Wills recently presented a thought-provoking review of research on consumer response to nutrition information on food labels in Europe from 2003 to 2006. Although nutrition labelling has been a major instrument for providing consumers with information to help them make healthy, nutritionally appropriate choices, she told delegates at the recent CIAA conference in Brussels that there were indications that this information is often misunderstood. Understanding on-pack nutrition information in isolation is very different from understanding what this information means in the context of a weekly shopping excursion, she said. Addressing this last point should therefore be a key priority of future research.