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Article Type: Food facts From: Nutrition & Food Science, Volume 41, Issue 5
Food labels should include mandatory nutritional information, including on artificial trans fats and the country of provenance, said Environment Committee MEPs. The committee amended draft EU legislation to ensure that labels are legible, do not mislead, and provide the information that consumers need to make choices.
The draft legislation, voted at the second reading by the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee, aims to modernise, simplify and clarify food labelling within the EU. It would change existing rules on information that is compulsory on all labels, such as name, list of ingredients, “best before” or “use by” dates, specific conditions of use, and add a requirement to list key nutritional information. MEPs also want to require an indication of the “date of first freezing” for frozen unprocessed meat, poultry and fish.
MEPs agreed that key nutritional information, such as energy content, and amounts of fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sugars, protein and salt, must be indicated in a legible tabular form on the back of the packaging. But to this list they added artificial trans fats (the inclusion of which the Council of Ministers would have made voluntary). All this information would have to be expressed per 100 g or per 100 ml, and also per portion, and could also be accompanied by guideline daily amounts.
The origin of certain foods, such as beef, honey, olive oil and fresh fruit and vegetables, must already be stated on the label. At Parliament’s request, the Council of Ministers agreed to extend this to swine, sheep, goat and poultry meat. However, MEPs now wish to go further, by indicating the “place or country of provenance” for all meat and poultry, milk and dairy products and other single-ingredient products. They also voted for a requirement to state the country of provenance for meat, poultry and fish when used as an ingredient in processed food.
Meat labels should indicate where the animal was born, reared and slaughtered, say MEPs. In addition, meat from slaughter without stunning (in accordance with certain religious traditions), should be labelled as such and meat consisting of combined meat parts must be labelled “formed meat”.
A majority in committee felt that alcoholic drinks should be exempted from the new rules. MEPs argued that the issue of “alcopops” cannot be addressed until they have been defined – a task that they assigned to the Commission. MEPs also approved exemptions for gift packages and seasonal items.