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 Full text 
Tuesday, 5 July 2011 - Strasbourg Revised edition

Food information to consumers (debate)

  Esther de Lange (PPE).(NL) Mr President, I too, of course, would like to offer my sincerest thanks to the rapporteur – this legislation will definitely lead to European consumers being better informed.

However, there is still something that bothers me when it comes to sham products. Take this cheese pizza, for example. At first glance it looks very tasty, but as soon as you study the ingredients, you discover that the Edam cheese used is in fact not a cheese at all but a mix of cheese, water, cream and vegetable fats. Bon appétit!

The compromise that has now been reached with the Council ensures that every producer must specify what substitute products are made use of. I can see you nodding, Commissioner, but how will that work out in practice? I fear that all this will mean in practice is that vegetable oil will be added in the case of this pizza. That gets consumers absolutely nowhere, as they will be thinking of olive oil rather than fake cheese. I would prefer to see a stricter approach taken to vegetable-based cheese substitutes, for example. To me, that would seem to be clearer and better.

To sum up, I will wait and see whether this compromise delivers any practical result. That will also depend on strict enforcement and strict checks in the Member States. Therefore, Commissioner, my plan – so you know this in advance, and you have been warned – is to ask the Commission over the coming years how this legislation is being enforced in the Member States. When a product purports to contain cheese, it should actually contain cheese. If that is not the case, consumers should be informed of this. I hope that this legislation succeeds in bringing that situation about, but if it does not we will certainly be asking you for a stricter approach.

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