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Major food makers pledge to standardise EU nutrition labelling

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 15-Nov-2012

Twelve major food manufacturers and retailers have backed a plan to standardise food labelling across the European Union, in line with the new EU Food Information for Consumers regulation.

Currently, some retailers and manufacturers list Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) of nutrients as well as traffic light labels and text, while others only provide GDAs. In addition, the visual presentation of this information varies.

The twelve companies – Coca-Cola, Danone, Ferrero, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Mondelēz, Mars, Metro, Nestlé, Orangina-Schweppes, Pepsico and Unilever – said that the move would harmonise their labels in the EU, as supported by industry trade bodies FoodDrinkEurope and EuroCommerce.

In response to the move, FoodDrinkEurope issued a “renewed GDA labelling commitment”, which it says goes beyond mandatory nutrition labelling elements of the regulation, to also include voluntary front-of-pack nutrition labelling.

FoodDrinkEurope’s president Jesús Serafín Pérez said: “This marks a very positive development within the food industry and FoodDrinkEurope demonstrating our continued commitment to the aims of the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. In pledging this new commitment, manufacturers are encouraged in their efforts to provide simple, objective and factual information on pack across all markets in the EU, enabling consumers to better manage their individual diets.”

Labels will carry front-of-pack calorie information per 100g/ml in addition to information per portion, and the 12 manufacturers have pledged to implement the changes by the end of 2014.

Across Europe, nearly half (48%) of all packaged food products have nutrition information front-of-pack, according to FLABEL (Food Labelling to Advance Better Education for Life), peaking at about 80% in the UK. FLABEL says that GDAs and nutrition claims are the most common forms of front-of-pack nutrition information, both present on about a quarter of European foods.

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