On March 7, 2022, IDF Europe responded to the European Commission’s public consultation on the ‘Revision of EU legislation on Food Information to Consumers’, which will help determine the future of food and alcohol labelling in the EU. The consultation asked a series of questions on front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition labelling and the setting of nutrient profiles to restrict the use of claims on foods as well as questions concerning alcoholic beverage labelling, including lists of ingredients and nutrition declaration.
This public consultation was an opportunity for citizens and stakeholders to share their views and experiences on the main obstacles they are facing in these food labelling areas and on possible ways to overcome them. In response to this, IDF Europe shared the following position.
FOP nutrition labelling and the setting of nutrient profiling criteria to restrict claims
Our food values, preferences and dietary practices are shaped by our food environment, which, in turn, is largely governed by how foods are marketed and labelled. Access to healthy foods and policies encouraging manufacturers to produce healthier offerings will help reduce the risk or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes (T2D) and diabetes-related complications for many people. An EU-wide mandatory FOP system that is interpretive and uniform will allow consumers to make informed choices, including in lower socio-economic groups who are amongst the most vulnerable to dietary risk factors, as well as encourage the manufacture of healthier foods. There should be no exemptions – including for regionally produced products (existing GI labels already recognise the specific quality of such products) nor for specific food types e.g. for babies/young children – as those would undermine the aim of the system to be implemented uniformly and consistently.
Alcoholic beverage labelling
Given a direct relationship between higher levels of alcohol consumption and some non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and the deficit of consumer information on alcoholic beverages, it is paramount for effective nutrition and ingredients labelling to be implemented to empower consumers to make healthier alcohol purchasing decisions. Alcohol is high in calories and sugar and can significantly contribute to overweight and obesity which are major risk factors for developing T2D and diabetes-related complications. To empower consumers to make healthier decisions, the EU should introduce mandatory, FOP energy labelling for all types of alcoholic products, and a mandatory ingredients list on the alcohol products. Basic information (amount of alcohol, energy and ingredients list) should be provided on label on the product itself, complemented if needed by a QR code. Introducing warning labels on alcoholic beverages with information on alcohol-associated risks should be set up at EU level, as recommended by the World Health Organisation.