In order to make food supply in Europe more sustainable and to provide consumers with better choices, the EU Commission has launched consultations on improved food labelling in Europe. AK participated in these, demanding, among other, the obligatory introduction of Nutri-Scores and nutrient profiles.
Within the scope of the “Farm to Fork” Strategy, the EU Commission announced its intention to improve food labelling. To achieve this, the EU Commission intents to submit a legislative proposal by the end of 2022 and has launched a Consultation, which comprises the following areas: front-of-pack nutrition labelling and nutrient profiles, country of origin indication, date marking and alcoholic beverage labelling.
Nutrition labelling and nutrient profile
The Nutri-Score is a five-level colour scale with letters, similar to energy labelling for electric appliances, and enables consumers to identify a product’s nutritional value at first glance. AK supports simple and easily understandable, science-based, harmonised and obligatory symbolic nutrition labelling on the front of all food packaging and therefore demands an EU-wide obligatory introduction of the Nutri-Score. This must be applied together with a nutrition declaration and a list of ingredients. To ensure that consumers regard the introduced system as trustworthy and use it, public authorities shall be in charge of developing and implementing the labelling.
The introduction of nutrient profiles for advertising nutrition and health claims, provided for in the Regulation establishing a list of permitted health claims, is of vital importance for food purchasing decisions. A juice, advertised as a “vitamin-source“, must not be a sugar bomb; a product advertised as “healthy”, shall be a healthy combination of ingredients overall and not just with regard to a certain individual aspect. Hence, AK supports the introduction of nutrient profiles, which reliably protect consumers against misleading health claims in case of food, which contains too much fat, sugar and/or salt. A strong focus on consumer protection and public health is necessary to ensure that nutrient profiles are beneficial to consumers. Furthermore, nutrient profiles are not only required regarding advertisements containing health claims but also for food advertisements aimed at children.
One of several reasons why still edible products are no longer consumed is the lack of distinction between use-by date, which is necessary in case of some products and the best-before date, which is common for most other products. While selling products after the use-by date is forbidden and their consumption is no longer recommended, food with an expired best-before date can still be sold provided relevant information is given. Many food products are still edible after the best-before date and have no quality or safety deficiencies, even if they might not be as aromatic, less colour intensive or drier than usual. AK is in favour of clearer differentiation of the terms “to use by” and “best before”, for example by issuing clearly distinguishable symbols. The most important factor is that consumers are able to easily find and clearly read the expiry labels.
Alcoholic beverage labelling
In view of the high proportion of obese people throughout the EU, a condition, which is to a significant extent caused by alcohol consumption, nutrition information is an important tool to enable consumers to make healthier purchasing decisions at the supermarket. As consumers have the right to information on nutritional composition and ingredients of alcoholic beverages, AK is giving strong support to the obligatory nutrition labelling of alcoholic beverages.
Indication of the country of origin
Over the last years, surveys concerning food products have revealed that consumers would prefer more information regarding the origin of products and their ingredients respectively. Some consumers associate origin with quality, others with environmental protection. Moreover, some would just like to know a product’s origin for reasons of transparency. However, the current EU regulations on indication of origin marking on products do not meet consumers’ expectations. Hence, AK welcomes and strongly supports the expansion of the obligatory indication of origin to fulfil long-term consumer demands for more transparency. The focus has to be on information regarding the country of origin of the most important ingredients.
AK EUROPA Position Paper: Farm to Fork Strategy
AK EUROPA: Focus on sustainable food production!
AK EUROPA: AK’s expertise in the Committee on the Environment