‘Constructive’ and ‘technical’: EC launches front of pack labelling debate

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

EC wants to facilitate discussion on uniform nutritional labels ©iStock
EC wants to facilitate discussion on uniform nutritional labels ©iStock
The European Commission has launched an investigation into front of pack (FOP) nutritional labelling in the bloc, with stakeholders describing the first in a series of meetings as both “constructive” and “technical”.

The European Commission has said that it intends to facilitate a discussion on FOP labelling between Member States and stakeholders. The initial meeting, held yesterday (23 April), was the first in a series of discussions that will feed into an EC-backed report on labelling legislation within the Single Market.

The Commission’s role in this process is defined by FIC Regulation (Article 35.5), obliging the regulator to issue a report on so-called “additional forms of expression and/or presentation”.​ This includes the voluntary FOP nutritional labelling schemes, which have been introduced by some European national governments and businesses.

Nutritional FOP labelling aims to deliver easy to understand information on the nutritional content of food products to consumers. Initiatives include the UK’s traffic lights labelling scheme and France’s Nutri-Score system. Last month, Dutch authorities confirmed they are mulling the introduction of a similar labelling requirement. 

The EC has said it will complete a report examining the uptake and impact of these labelling requirements on the Single Market by the end of this year.

‘Constructive’ discussions

Industry body FoodDrinkEurope (FDE) was representing the food sector at the meeting.

A spokesperson told FoodNavigator: “The meeting happened in a constructive atmosphere and was mostly of technical nature. It allowed for a first exchange of experiences and evidence of use and understanding of the various FOP schemes to date and those in the pipeline, both from Member State authorities as well as food and beverage organisations.”

FDE has voiced its opposition to the proliferation of different labelling requirements throughout Europe, arguing that this has the potential to undermine the smooth operation of the Single Market.

“Whilst the EC stated that it does not have the power to prevent the development of a scheme by national governments or private operators, it believes that bringing all actors together and allowing for discussion at an early stage may avoid wider proliferation of labelling schemes across the EU - something which we welcome.

“Whilst much remains to be discussed further, FoodDrinkEurope hopes that this process will lead to a more co-ordinated approach to FOP nutrition labelling at EU level.”

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