Knowing what is in your food when you buy it will soon hopefully become much easier. New labelling rules backed by members of the European Parliament on Wednesday aim to provide more information and choice.
In terms of origin, all meats sold in the EU will now have to show where they came from. The current rules for meat only apply to beef. However, pork, poultry and lamb will also soon be included. Any substances that could cause an allergic reaction will also have to be clearly labelled in the ingredients of a product.
In addition, better nutritional information will have to be made clearer. Food producers will also have to show data in metric form and will not be allowed to use lettering that is too small.
Consumer groups believe it will bring clarity. “There will be some improvements for consumers. For the first time there will be compulsory nutritional information. It means we will know exactly how much sugar, fat, saturated fat, salt, proteins, carbohydrates and calories are in a product,” said Ophélie Spanneut from the EU Consumers Association.
But, alcohol will not be included in the new shake up. Those who want better labelling rules for the drinks industry have criticised the omission.
“Why doesn’t the alcohol industry do it? I mean I don’t understand, I don’t understand the wine industry. If it’s such a natural product why is it such a big secret,” said Marianne Skar from European Alcohol Policy Alliance.
But, the man in charge of Europe’s health and consumer policy says plans to include alcohol could be in the pipeline. “On alcohol, I believe that we will be making our own studies to see whether we can come to an arrangement to have some type of nutrition information on alcoholic beverages,” said John Dalli the EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy.
Traceability of Europe’s food became a major issue during the recent E.coli outbreak. The new rules come into force in four years.