Melinda, from Hunedoara in Romania, asks:
I’d like to know if there’s a European project aimed at clarity in tracing processed food that’s sold on the European market. For instance, giving the precise origin of the ingredients shown on the label.
EU spokesman for Health & Consumers Frédéric Vincent responds:
The rules in the European Union today cover certain fresh foods, and I think in particular meat, notably beef. When you go to your butcher or to a supermarket, you know where the animal you are going to buy a piece of came from. It is mandatory.
Very recently, the EU adopted a new regulation for the labelling of foods, and within a few years the obligation applied to information about meat will be extended to other kinds of animal: pork or chicken. So, there is that. It also applies to fruit and vegetables. Generally, in a market or supermarket you know where they are from.
It is more complicated for processed food, but we are working on that. Try to imagine what could be the case, for example, for a packet of chocolate biscuits. It’s necessary to say where the milk is from, the flour used, the chocolate. In a word; in a word, it’s nearly impossible.
It helps, for instance, with products having a certified designation of origin; we know where they come from. But it is more complicated for processed foods.
However, European labelling is one of the clearest there is, and one of the most efficient in the world — something in which we are all involved. The regulation that is about to come into force very soon will help European consumers even more.