FSA Letter,14 May 2007
As outlined in our letter of 16 March, the European Commission is seeking views from Member States on a number of specific areas relating to nutrition labelling on prepacked foods. The Food Standards Agency would be interested to hear your views on the following issues in advance of the next Working Group meeting, which is expected to take place in June or July.
Front of Pack nutrition signpost labelling
The Commission is considering including provisions for some form of front of pack nutrition signpost labelling in their proposals for revised nutrition labelling rules. We would be interested to know whether you think the format of front of pack nutrition signpost labels should be prescribed and if so in what level of detail. If not, how would you suggest that schemes are regulated to ensure that consumers receive consistent, meaningful and transparent information both within Member States and across the EU?
Mandatory nutrition labelling
The UK Government made a commitment in the Choosing Health white paper to seek mandatory nutrition labelling on prepacked foods, the Agency will be pressing for any new rules on nutrition labelling to be evidence based and to make sure that any costs to industry are reasonable and proportionate to the benefits that they provide to the consumer. With this in mind, if nutrition labelling were to be mandatory should there be:
- exemptions for certain food items, non pre-packed goods, products sold in small packages or products packaged at point of sale? If so which foods should be covered and why?
- concessions for SME's such as derogations and if so what they might be and why?
- a requirement to label certain nutrients? If so, which ones and why? The Agency believes that there is a case for the labelling of calories, fat, saturated fat, salt and sugars. Should additional nutrients be allowed to be declared on a voluntary basis? If so, should these be restricted to those that are associated with public health issues?
- nutritional information for alcoholic drinks? If so, which nutrients should be required to be declared and why?
The current nutrition labelling rules do not allow businesses to give customers information on trans fat levels unless they make a claim. Current dietary intakes, and voluntary industry action to reduce trans fats levels in foods, would not suggest that there is a need to introduce specific measures to ban or limit trans fats in foods. However, we would be interested to hear your views on options for providing consumers with this information to enable them to make informed decisions on the foods that they buy when in the shopping environment?
Presentation of nutrition information
How should the amount of a nutrient present in a food be presented on the label - per 100g or per portion or both? Are there other formats that would provide consumers with the information that they need to make informed choices? Explain the rationale for your suggestion.
Should GDA information be harmonised at EU level and be included in the nutrition labelling panel? How should GDA information be presented so that it is meaningful in an international market?
Respondents are also asked to provide assessments of costs and benefits of doing / not doing any of the above to help inform the Commission's thinking when drawing up their proposals.
Responses should be sent no later than Monday 11 June 2007 to allow us to take your views into account ahead of the next Expert Working Group on nutrition labelling. Further updates on the progress of discussions at the Commission Working Group will follow in due course.