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 Full text 
Tuesday, 13 December 2011 - Strasbourg Revised edition

Fruit juices and certain similar products intended for human consumption (debate)

  Esther de Lange (PPE). (NL) Mr President, is it not the case that this European House is completely detached from reality sometimes? In my view, this piece of legislation, this compromise, as it has been styled, on fruit juice, is an example of that. I will tell you what the reality is.

After work, the average European rushes into their local supermarket, five minutes before closing time, with two tired children in tow, and is then confronted with a whole wall of fruit juices and fruit drinks, including so-called ‘fruit nectar’. I have asked a number of shoppers what the word ‘nectar’ makes them think of. It makes them think of all sorts of things, from bees to natural products. However, the last thing it suggests to them is that sugar might have been added to this so-called natural product. That is a fact. This average European is not going to read the small print when they have two crying children sitting in their trolley. That is not something they are going to have the time to do.

I, therefore, found the original Commission proposal more than justified. It contained a provision to the effect that any sugar being added to those fruit juices, or nectars, should be explicitly and clearly stated on the packaging. However, that proposal has been scrapped in its entirety. We no longer explicitly state on labels when sugar has been added to products, while at the same time, we do state, on fruit juices where the addition of sugar is prohibited, that no sugar has been added. That is turning the world on its head, surely! We state ingredients that are not there on labels while failing to state ingredients that actually are.

I am astonished that the Commission is now defending this, because, when its proposal came out, it issued a lovely-sounding press release in which it said that we were going to get better at informing consumers when sugar had been added. Now it seems that the reality is very different. First, they make a big song and dance about it and, now, they are agreeing to this half-baked compromise.

I am also astonished that members from the leftist groups, who are always the first to rush to the fore when it comes to providing better information to customers, are actually perpetuating customer confusion about this. Despite the fact that I am, sadly, going to be in the minority, I am going to vote against this compromise tomorrow.

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