Food and Drink Europe (FDE) welcomed the draft regulation, “after nearly three years of long, often difficult discussions” whilst highlighting disappointing omissions and unresolved aspects of the regulation.
FDE communications director, Lisa McCooey, said changes in sodium, trans fats and fibre labelling did little to promote consumer access to product nutrient information, and were somewhat of a rebuke of industry efforts in the area.
“Given the positive steps that have been taken by the industry to date through our voluntary reformulation efforts, it is regrettable that operators will no longer have the possibility to provide the sodium content for consumers,” she said, of the new rules that prefer salt to sodium labelling.
Similarly, the removal of the possibility to label trans fats acted to de-incentivise trans fat reduction in products.
“Voluntary declaration of transfats is not possible any more,” she said. “Industry has done a lot to reduce the TFA content in their products on a voluntary basis.”
“Fibre is another such case in point - the voluntary declaration of fibre is also not foreseen compared to what is currently available for consumers on food and drink products.”
FDE is also asking for the interaction of the new labelling rules – set for introduction within three years –with other regulations to be codified, with quinine and caffeine-containing foods highlighted.
It called on the EU institutions to bear in mind its original intention of the regulation when working with yet-to-be resolved aspects that included:
- Additional forms of expression
- Voluntary food information
- Portion sizes for specific foods
- Labelling of the list of ingredients for alcoholic beverages in the nutrient declaration
UEAPME, the European craft and SME employers’ organisation, also broadly welcomed the draft rules, but said a late amendment to make country of origin labelling (COOL) mandatory (once an economic impact assessment has been performed) for mixed meat products, would be too costly due to the need for constant relabeling as source countries altered.
The group said it would also act as a protectionist tool as it would promote meats sourced from one nation.
COOL has been extended to fresh meat from pigs, sheep, goat and poultry. This is on top of foods - such as beef, honey, olive oil and fresh fruit and vegetables already on labels.