Amidst heated debate over nutritional and origin labelling for food products in Europe, the European Commission is now undertaking a public consultation on food labels – covering nutrition and origin, but also best-by and use-by dates – that asks EU citizens to participate and share their views.
Within the framework of the Farm-to-Fork (F2F) initiative, the European Commission has committed itself to adopting a proposal for EU-wide food labelling by the end of 2022. For more than a year now, EU member states have been debating the possible harmonisation of front of pack (FOP) nutritional labelling systems. The ultimate objective: establish standardised labelling in order to provide the most accurate information to European consumers, and ultimately help Europeans follow healthier diets.
The debate among national governments is far from reaching a conclusion. At the last Agriculture and Fisheries Council in December 2020, member states deadlocked over the different options available. While Germany, then presiding, wanted to endorse compulsory Nutri-Score-style labelling as developed in France, a coalition of countries led by Italy has rejected Nutri-Score and seeks a system they feel would be better adapted to Europe’s diverse regional diets, all while respecting traditional food products. That said, in the words of European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski, all members agree a labelling system should be science-based.
To give everyone a chance to have their say on this ongoing debate, the Commission has launched its six-week consultation on December 23rd, giving Europeans until February 3rd to share their opinions. The consultation outlines the various options the Commission has to choose from, including Nutri-Score, the competing Nutrinform Battery system, endorsement logos such as the Nordic Keyhole and Healthy Choice, and the “traffic lights” system developed in the UK.
Participants can also respond to the Commission’s moves towards establishing nutrient profiles, which together with FOP labels are “aimed at stimulating food reformulation towards healthier foods and facilitating consumers’ healthier food choices.”
Be they experts or members of the general public, EU citizens who are interested in participating in this example of participatory democracy on a continental scale can do so via the Commission’s “Have your say” platform. Responses to the consultation, which can be submitted in any EU language, will be publicly available online and accepted through midnight on February 3rd.
To access the consultation, visit this link.