Council enables consumers to make healthier dietary choices

04 2011

Council enables consumers to make healthier dietary choices

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Brussels: The Council today approved1 a compromise text aimed at ensuring that food labels carry essential information in a clear and legible way (43/11 + 13135/11 ADD 1 REV 1), following a second-reading agreement with the European Parliament. This means that the new regulation is now adopted. The new food labelling rules enter into force 20 days after their publication in the Official Journal of the EU which is expected for the end of November. The vast majority of them become applicable three years after their publication.

The main objective of the new regulation is to enable consumers to make balanced and healthier dietary choices. In order to achieve this, prepacked food must in future be labelled with the energy value and the quantities of fat, saturates, carbohydrates, protein, sugars and salt. As a general principle, the energy value and the amounts of these nutrients (which together form the “mandatory nutrition declaration“) will have to be expressed per 100g or per 100ml, but can additionally be indicated on a per portion basis.

Furthermore, they can also be indicated as a percentage of reference intakes, better known as GDA (Guidelines Daily Amounts). Food business operators can use additional forms of expression or presentation as long as certain conditions are met (e.g. they do not mislead consumers and are supported by evidence of consumer understanding). All elements of the nutrition declaration should appear together in the same field of vision but some of them may be repeated on the "front of pack”.

The draft regulation requires labelling to be clear and legible. In order to improve legibility the new regulation establishes a minimum font size for the mandatory information of 1.2 mm for the x-height. If the largest surface of a food package is less than 80 cm² the minimum font size is reduced to 0.9 mm.

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