14 September 2001
Tougher food labelling ahead

By FWi staff

STRICTER labelling laws are on the way from Brussels.

The labels are intended to give consumers a clearer idea of what is contained in manufactured foods and to help people with allergies avoid certain products.

In particular, the proposal seeks to do away with “the 25%” rule.

“Currently the components of compound ingredients, such as jam, which form less than 25% of a final product, need not be indicated on the label,” says the EU Commission.

The rule was introduced 20 years ago to avoid over-long labels. “But since then, food production has become more and more complex, and people eat a lot more processed foods.”

EU food safety commissioner, David Byrne, said the new laws would boost consumer confidence and were a direct response to repeated requests for better information.

He also indicated that, with up to 8% of children and 3% of adults susceptible to food allergies, food manufacturers would have to identify any allergenic ingredients.

A list is to be drawn up, including cereals containing gluten, crustaceans, fish and various nuts.

The legislation will have to be approved by member states and the European parliament – a process which takes up to two years.

  • GERMANY has launched a new organic labelling scheme in an attempt to help consumers identify and choose organic foods. The project is backed with a DM28 million (8.8m) government purse and is central to farm minister Renate Künasts aim of making 20% of German agriculture organic by 2010