This week work on the Food Labelling legislation resumes as the European Parliament’s Committee for Environment and Public Health hold their first discussion. However, we already know what the key issues and battles will be.
In the first reading of the proposed legislation I fought hard for more and better information for consumers who want to know what’s in the food they buy. I wanted to see the key nutrients; calories, fats, saturated fats, sugar and salt, labelled on the front of the pack. I won that argument, and the Parliament accepted my amendments. The Council, and some MEPs, don’t want this information on the front of pack, but is something that I will be staunchly defending.
What we unfortunately lost was a system of colour coding, similar to the traffic light system many retailers in the UK are already using. This system allows consumers to quickly compare similar products, and for people who, for example, want to cut down on the amount of salt they eat, to do so easily. As we were not successful with this in the first reading we can’t introduce it now, but I will continue to campaign for traffic light labelling, and will be calling on the European Commission to come forward with new proposals as soon as possible.
Those on the centre right of the Parliament are trying to stop us from using traffic light labelling voluntarily in the UK, which is another thing I will be fighting hard against. They are also trying to weaken the proposals I got through last time on country of origin labelling. I think that for those consumers concerned about animal welfare and the environment it is important to know where the meat you buy comes from, including meat in processed products like sandwiches and ready meals.
The coming months will see big battles and negotiations over these important issues, and I’ll keep you updated on my blog.