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Parliamentary questions
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26 September 2013
E-011011-13
Question for written answer E-011011-13
to the Commission
Rule 117
Paolo De Castro (S&D) , Giancarlo Scottà (EFD) , Herbert Dorfmann (PPE) , Giovanni La Via (PPE) , Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE) , Iratxe García Pérez (S&D) , Michel Dantin (PPE)

 Subject:  Food labelling: UK traffic-light system
 Answer in writing 

Following a recommendation issued by the UK Government’s Department of Health on 19 June 2013, major retailers in the UK are labelling food products according to a colour‐coding system (red, orange and green) based on their fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar content. This recommendation was adopted on a voluntary basis in accordance with Article 35(2) of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011. The same regulation stipulates that certain requirements must be met (Article 35(1)) and that the Commission must adopt implementing acts. Any system which classifies foodstuffs exclusively according to fat content risks penalising numerous European products (Parmigiano‐Reggiano, mozzarella and other cheeses, ham, etc.), which would thus be considered ‘unhealthy’ despite their high quality. Furthermore, the attribution of labels by major retailers runs the risk of penalising small and medium-sized enterprises in particular, owing to additional — and escalating — production costs.

1. Has the Commission verified that the abovementioned UK Government recommendation conforms with Article 35(1) of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011, i.e. that the food labels in question are objective and non‐discriminatory and that their application does not create obstacles to the free movement of goods?

2. Does the Commission intend to ensure the correct application of Article 35(6) of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 (on implementing acts) following the UK Government recommendation, and to define the requirements of Article 35(1) more precisely?

3. Does the Commission not think it necessary for the UK Government to notify the Commission of the abovementioned recommendation, in accordance with Directive 98/34/EC?

 OJ C 208, 03/07/2014
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