Labelling rules for "quality” foods to be streamlined

By Sarah Hills

- Last updated on GMT

Dark chocolate and salt are among the foods covered by draft new rules that aim to speed up quality labelling of agricultural products in the EU.

The EU Agriculture Committee has amended draft labelling rules, cutting the time allowed for the Commission to respond to a request to register such a label from 12 to just 6 months.

This would impact foods such as those falling under the "protected designation of origin"​ (PDO) label for products produced, processed and prepared in a given area, such as Parmigiano Reggiano.

Single set of rules

The idea is to simplify and strengthen current rules, helping food producers compete with imports.

The proposed new legislation would provide a single set of rules for quality labelling schemes covering foods such as fresh meat, cheese, beers, fruits, vegetables, oils, bread and pastry that originated in a geographical area or were produced or processed in line with a traditional practice.

The rules, approved by the Agriculture Committee yesterday, would also apply to dark chocolate and salt.

Wines and spirits

However, "light" and "low-fat" product labelling would be on voluntary basis, country-by-country, whereas wines and spirits would continue to be excluded.

MEPs said the whole procedure must be “streamlined and shortened, rules simplified and protection of registered products strengthened” to encourage more producers to register their agricultural, fishery and aquaculture products and foodstuffs and to enable customers to make more informed choices.

The rules would also empower food producer groups (any association of producers, processors or producer-processors) to protect their proprietary names, improve the performance of the scheme and promote the authenticity and reputation of their products.


Such groups would also be allowed, with endorsement from their Member State, to "adjust" supply and demand by managing production of protected products, as long as it did not harm competition on the single market or lead to small producers being adversely affected.

The other EU-wide quality labelling schemes are the "protected geographical indication"​ (PGI) label for produce and foodstuffs where at least one production stage takes place in the specified region and the "traditional speciality guaranteed" (TSG) label where producers use a recognised traditional method.

PDO and PGI on food and beverage labels can provide consumers with clear and concise information on their origin as well as benefit the rural economy, as it boosts farmers' income and maintains the population in less favoured or remote areas.

The committee said EU symbols associated with the PDO, PGI and TSG labels must be made mandatory for all registered products originating in the EU.

They would appear with the name of the label used and the product's registered name. A depiction of the geographical area of origin or a symbol referring to the Member State or region may also appear.

The report approved in the committee will be put to a vote by Parliament at the September 26 - 29 plenary in Strasbourg.

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