Businesses and Consumers Need Uniform Food Labels, E.U. Commissioner Says

Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides told European agricultural ministers that a pan-European food label would be published soon.
Stella Kyriakides
By Paolo DeAndreis
Sep. 30, 2022 11:53 UTC

Food prod­ucts sold in the European Union will soon have to dis­play uni­form front-of-pack labels (FOPL), accord­ing to the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.

Stella Kyriakides con­firmed in a speech to European agri­cul­tural min­is­ters that the offi­cial reg­u­la­tion for a com­mon food label­ing plat­form is close to being pub­lished.

Kyriakides praised the efforts of European coun­tries that have already deployed FOPLs that help con­sumers make health­ier choices. However, she warned that so many dis­parate labels increased costs for busi­nesses and con­tributed to con­fu­sion among con­sumers.

See Also:App Allows Consumers to Personalize Nutri-Score for Individual Lifestyles

Many of you have intro­duced national rec­om­men­da­tions or leg­is­la­tion on front-of-pack nutri­tion label­ing, the ori­gin of cer­tain foods and label­ing alco­holic bev­er­ages,” she said. However, they are not aligned. This can lead to con­sumer con­fu­sion, bar­ri­ers to free move­ment of goods and extra com­pany costs.”

Kyriakides said the European Commission’s deci­sion was being shaped by research under­taken by dif­fer­ent European insti­tu­tions and the rec­om­men­da­tions made by con­sumers, farm­ing asso­ci­a­tions, food pro­duc­ers and other stake­hold­ers who par­tic­i­pated in the pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion.

Kyriakides added the final deci­sion takes on board” the European Food Safety Authority’s opin­ion about the role of the Mediterranean diet in pre­vent­ing and mit­i­gat­ing a series of wide­spread dis­eases.

The European Commission is also con­sid­er­ing the results of an E.U. Joint Research Center study, which found that con­sumers pre­fer effec­tively sim­ple and col­ored FOPLs pub­lished on the prod­uct pack­ag­ing (as opposed to a QR code), such as Nutri-Score.

The push toward a com­mon and manda­tory food pack­ag­ing label is part of the broader Farm-to-Fork Strategy announced two years ago by the European Commission to pro­mote sus­tain­abil­ity and envi­ron­men­tally-friendly food pro­duc­tion prac­tices.

Front-of-pack food labels are also con­sid­ered cru­cial for the goals of the Commission’s Beating Cancer plan.

Based on the find­ings of the JRC report, Nutri-Score appears to remain the most prob­a­ble can­di­date among the FOPLs being con­sid­ered for E.U.-wide adop­tion.

Nutri-Score is a traf­fic-light-style FOPL that uses a com­bi­na­tion of five coor­di­nated col­ors and let­ters to rate how healthy a pack­aged food item is based on its fat, sugar, salt and calo­rie con­tent per 100 gram or mil­li­liter serv­ing. The Green A” indi­cates the health­i­est option, and Red E” denotes the least healthy.

The food rat­ing sys­tem has gained wide accep­tance in a num­ber of European coun­tries. Still, it has come under intense crit­i­cism in Italy, where it is believed that adopt­ing Nutri-Score would hurt tra­di­tional pro­duc­ers.

There had also been wide­spread oppo­si­tion from olive oil pro­duc­ers and their allies in Europe’s three largest pro­duc­ing coun­tries. However, a revi­sion in the algo­rithm improved olive oil’s score from a Yellow C” to Light green B” and has largely assuaged con­cerns.

The European Commission is expected to announce its final deci­sion before March 2023.


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