FSA News Item, 16 February 2006
Experts from 23 European Member States came together to debate the future of food labelling at a major conference.
The event, organised by the Food Standards Agency and the Dutch Ministry for Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS), took place in Rotterdam on 15 and 16 February. The conference comes as the European Commission continues its review of labelling legislation.
Following a keynote presentation by Mr Rob Dortland, VWS's Director of the Department of Nutrition, Health Protection and Prevention in the Netherlands, representatives from food manufacturing, retail, consumer groups and small business got the chance to share their views on food labelling with policy makers from across Europe.
The conference, opened by Mr Hans Hoogervorst, Dutch Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport, debated a range of issues. The degree to which the current labelling regime meets consumer and industry requirements was questioned and there were calls for simplification and consolidation of existing EU legislation.
Possible solutions for the future were also suggested including: standardisation of the way information is provided to aid consumers in navigating labels, the use of logos to address problems caused by multi-lingual labels, simplifying nutrition labelling to provide information that is both understandable and of use to consumers, and the provision of information off-label.
Dr Richard Harding, Head of the FSA's Consumer Choice Division, and Chair of the Conference, said: 'European food labelling legislation has evolved over many years. This event gave representatives from across Europe the chance to go back to the drawing board, take a fresh look and discuss what the legislative framework might be.
'We intended this conference to stimulate a wide ranging debate on what should be on the label and why, and we think we achieved that.'
The European Commission is due to issue a discussion document this year, with proposals expected in 2007.