New European Union rules on food labelling will not introduce an EU-wide colour coding system.
Research shows that many people find the nutritional information on packaging hard to understand, and consumer groups had lobbied hard to see fat, sugar and salt content brightly highlighted. They said colours help shoppers scanning packaging to make healthy choices.
But European Parliament voting on proposals reflected a different point of view.
Renate Sommer, with the European People’s Party, said: “We deleted the amendments that wanted to have a colour coding, but that’s of course a big success because colour coding would be misleading the consumer — we couldn’t accept that as a mandatory labelling scheme. We make it front of pack labelling of energy content mandatory [and a] back of pack table that lists the most important nutrients per 100 grammes or 100 millilitres, so that you can compare products.”
Country of origin labelling has been made mandatory under the new rules.
Increasingly, food companies and major distributors with their own brands are making the choice themselves to use colour not just decoratively in their labelling but to reinforce clarity.