Food for thought…

Yesterday I spent 6 hours in a mammoth voting session in the Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety committee.

The main issue was food information to consumers, which if you’ve been reading this blog you will know is something I have been doing much work on.

I’m pleased to say that many of my proposals were accepted. The key one was for consumers to have the right to know where their food comes from. The committee backed my amendment by 32 votes to 29 to require mandatory labelling for all single-ingredient foods and on meat, poultry and fish when used in multi-ingredient foods, such as ready meals, prepacked sandwiches, burgers and sausages.

My proposals to require mandatory labelling of calories, sugar, salt, fat and saturated fat on the front of pack were also approved, again by a narrow majority of 35 votes to 26. This is good news for consumers and if this makes it to the final legislation will stop companies hiding this key information on the back of pack.

One issue on which I was flooded with correspondence from constituents was that of the inclusion of farming production method (eg battery cages or free range) in multi-ingredient foods such as quiches, scotch eggs or any other food. I recommended that my group (Socialists and Democrats) back this amendment and it made all the difference as it was accepted by the committee.

I had also tabled amendments seeking to include calorie content on alcoholic drinks and seeking to include mandatory traffic light labelling on ready meals, soft drinks and breakfast cereals. I believe consumers don’t realise just how many calories alcoholic drinks have and I know that for complex foods it is often difficult to ascertain the nutritional content of these foods.

To my regret, and disgust, the heavy lobbying from the food and alcohol industries won the day for the moment and convinced the majority of my colleagues to reject my amendments. I certainly intend to retable them for the final vote of all MEPs in May and I hope the majority will support them.

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  1. Robert says:

    I just watched a great documentary on food manufacturing issues in America called Food Inc, one of the points it raises is the resistence to accurate food labelling. I fully support your efforts here, I think that customers should have all this information clearly labelled. In fact it's amazing that there is not already legislation demanding complete openness.

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