Many European health and consumer organizations are asking the European Commission to avoid further delay in adopting front-of-pack nutrition food labels (FOPNL), called for by the E.U. Farm to Fork strategy. In an open letter, they warned that adopting such labels must be considered urgent to protect consumers’ health in the European Union.See Also:Studies Indicate Labels Like Nutri-Score Help Consumers Make Healthy Choices
The European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), the European Heart Network (EHN) and the Consumers Organization (BEUC) noted that the latest data shows over half of E.U. adults and one-third of children currently living as overweight or obese.
In their letter, the three organizations also stressed recent studies that confirmed obesity onset is earlier and the chances of living with obesity are much higher in lower-income households.
“While no policy tool can solve the issue of unhealthy food environments by itself, front-of-pack nutritional labelling, underpinned by robust independent scientific evidence, is an intervention which has been recognized by health experts as one which can tangibly help make the healthier choice the easier choice for consumers,” the signatories wrote.
The heated European Union FOPNL debate has highlighted divisions among member states. These differences of opinion are the main reason for the delays. The discussion has mainly focused on what kind of food labels should be introduced.
According to the open letter, the new labels should be mandatory for food producers, use interpretative color codes and be based on uniform reference amounts of 100 grams and 100 milliliters to “allow consumers to compare products according to their amounts of critical nutrients, notably saturated fat, sugars and salt.”
In the signatories’ view, such labels should be considered a tool to boost consumer education and dietary recommendations.
The promoters of Nutri-Score, the French-born front-of-pack food label, cheered the open letter initiative on its blog. In Nutri-Score’s view, its platform corresponds with the open letter’s description of the suggested labels.
Nutri-Score is a traffic-light-style FOPNL that uses a combination of five coordinated colors and letters to rate the health of a packaged food item. The rating is based on the food’s fat, sugar, salt and calorie content per 100 gram or milliliter serving. A “Green A” indicates the healthiest option, and a “Red E” denotes the least healthy.