As expected, decision-makers from the 27 members of the European Union today approved the key strands of the legislation that had been hammered out by national negotiators last week.
The main elements given the green light at the Council include:
- Mandatory nutrition labelling that displays the energy value and the quantities of some nutrients – such as fat, saturates, carbohydrates, protein, sugars and salt;
- As a general principle, the energy value and the amounts of these nutrients would have to be expressed per 100g or per 100ml, but could also be indicated as a percentage of reference intakes;
- Food business operators should be allowed to use other systems as long as they do not mislead consumers;
- All elements of the nutrition declaration should appear together in the same field of vision but some elements may be repeated on the “front of pack”;
- Country of origin labelling, compulsory for beef, should be extended to pork, lamb and chicken;
- The European Commission should also submit a report examining the possible extension of the compulsory labelling of the country of origin to further products – such as milk, milk used as an ingredient, meat used as an ingredient, unprocessed foods, single ingredient products, ingredients that represent more than 50% of a food – within three years of the act’s implementation;
- An exemption for certain alcoholic beverages (such as wines, products derived from aromatized wines, mead, beer, spirits, but not alcopops) from nutrition labelling rules as well as from the indication of the list of ingredients. This should be reviewed within five years;
Once a formal version of the draft regulation has been agreed by the Council, the measure will go to the European Parliament for a second reading.