The Food and Drink Federation is the voice of the UK food and drink industry, the largest manufacturing sector in the country...
YER Recruitment Solutions is your partner when you need to recruit the best directors, executives or graduates for your business. We offer quality...
Kinetic plc specialise in recruiting across multiple disciplines within the Manufacturing & Engineering industries.
Ingredients Recruitment Ltd specialises in three key areas for the Food & Drink industry - Commercial, Technical & Operations...
Blue Spark - your first port of call for well thought out recruitment and business solutions for the food & drinks industry...
MEPs set to vote on EU food labelling rules
by Martin Banks - 16/06/2010
"Socialist MEPs have launched a last ditch effort to "prevent a PR push" by food industry lobbyists from stopping shoppers from getting "honest, upfront" information about their food.
The move comes ahead of a vote in Strasbourg on Wednesday when MEPs will vote on new food labelling rules.
This includes the question of whether "traffic light labels" should be used on the front of packs for ready meals, processed convenience foods and many soft drinks.
If successful it would mean that such foods would need to show a sequence of red, amber or green indications so that people can quickly see how much salt, fat and sugar an item contains.
The British Heart Foundation, consumer body Which? and the British Medical Association have supported the scheme but it is being fiercely resisted by food manufacturers, who have spent the last few months on a major charm offensive to try and block MEPs' proposals.
UK Socialist Glenis Willmott, her party's spokesperson in parliament on health, has been campaigning for "more honest" food labelling since the commission first proposed to change EU rules two years ago.
She said, "This is about giving shoppers the right to make an informed choice about what they're buying, but it's clear that most food manufacturers don't want people to know what's really in their food.
"If we're serious about tackling obesity and heart disease, people need to know how much sugar, salt and fat is in the food they eat.
"But with products like ready meals and pre-packed sandwiches, the only real way of getting the facts is by checking the label - so there has to be a quick and easy way for people to interpret all that information."
Traffic light labels are already used by many suppliers and have the backing of big UK supermarket chains, including Asda, the Co-op, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury's.
Amendments in support of a traffic light scheme were narrowly defeated at committee stage, but they have been retabled by Willmott so they can be considered by the whole parliament.
Willmott added, "I believe that we have a crucial opportunity to give consumers real power.
"But some food manufacturers are spreading misinformation in an attempt to block the traffic light scheme.
"They've poured enormous amounts of money, time and effort into challenging these and other ideas that would give consumers a better understanding of what's in their food.
"To be frank, they don't want to see traffic light labels because they don't want this kind of information in such an easy to understand format. They prefer complex labels that make it far harder for shoppers to really understand what's going in their basket."
Meanwhile, BEUC, the EU-wide consumers' association, said the vote in parliament represents a "chance to give consumers the means to make informed choices about which food products they buy".
It says independent research shows that a system of colour-coding on the front of packs of processed food packaging "is best understood by consumers".
The organisation says colour-coding offers "quick, efficient and accurate" information on what the food contains without having to make complex calculations of percentages.
Its director general Monique Goyens said, "Independent research tells us that the colour-code labelling scheme, already used by some major supermarkets, is the system of labelling that shoppers find the most useful and easiest to understand."
She added, "European consumers have a right to clear and easy to understand information on packaging as to what their food contains; this is a matter of transparency.
"Europeans want the tools to make healthy choices for a balanced diet, but few of us have time to analyse the details of contents when shopping, this is why we ask for a labelling system which allows us to make at-a-glance comparisons between various foods.
"At a time when one in five Europeans are obese, there should be no reason not to empower individuals to improve their diets if they so wish."
More Details: http://www.theparliament.com/no_cache/latestnews/news-article/newsarticle/eu-parliament-set-to-vote-on-food-labelling-rules/