The EDA said it believes voluntary labeling schemes used in addition to the nutrition declaration required by the EU law can be a useful additional tool for consumers if they fulfil a number of important criteria: such a scheme should look at the food as a whole and support foods rich in essential nutrients.
It added a good voluntary labeling scheme should be evaluated, have a significant positive impact on consumer behavior and public health, be compatible with EU legislation and be supported by stakeholders.
ENL proposals ignore nutrients
The EDA said the traffic lights scheme proposal by six multi-national food companies in the ENL does not fulfil these requirements and is not an adequate system for milk and dairy products.
The Coca-Cola Company
The EDA noted the proposal is an extension of the color-coded UK traffic light system but with reference values including portions (and not only on 100g).
The proposed system includes the content of fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt, however the EDA argues this ignores positive nutrients such as protein, vitamins and minerals.
“Such a selective approach does not recognize the importance of nutrient-dense foods as recommended in dietary recommendations, nor does it help consumers to compose a balanced and varied diet with nutritious foods,” the EDA said.
The EDA argued the UK traffic light system has not changed consumer behavior, and said no study so far proves that color-coded and ‘negative nutrient’ based schemes help to improve public health.
Not appropriate for dairy
EDA secretary general, Alexander Anton, said the proposed ENL scheme as currently presented has not been adapted to acknowledge nutrient-rich foods and therefore is not adequate for milk and dairy products.
The EDA said the traffic light system creates confusing messages and possible errors in consumer understanding: it will encourage consumption of soft drinks compared to milk, or salted biscuits compared to cheese.
“We believe that systems which are worth further discussion and consideration by the interested stakeholders could be e.g. the Australian Health Star Rating scheme or Choices International logo,” the EDA stated.
“There is seriously something wrong with a scheme where a diet soda drink ranks better than drinking milk,” Anton concluded.