Proposal for a harmonised mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labelling

In “A European Green Deal”

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The European Commission announced the 'farm to fork strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system' on 20 May 2020, as part of the European Green Deal. The strategy aims to reduce the environmental and climate footprint of the EU food system and facilitate the shift to healthy and sustainable diets. The strategy targets the entire food chain and envisages to further empower consumers through labelling information. A Commission report on front-of-pack nutrition labelling was accompanying the 'farm to fork' strategy in May 2020.

The aim behind front-of-pack nutrition labelling is to improve consumers’ understanding of the nutritional value of foods, as well as stimulating food reformulation towards healthier foods and facilitating consumers’ healthier food choices. EU measures in the food information area would reduce market fragmentation and facilitate a harmonised single market with incentives for healthy and sustainable food across the whole EU. The increased harmonisation may be in particular beneficial for SMEs as they would not need to comply anymore with different national labelling schemes (such as the Nutri-Score or the Keyhole) and could apply the same front-of-pack nutrition labelling scheme across the EU.

A public consultation run between December 2021 and March 2022. A total of 3 225 responses were received, of which 65% from EU citizens. The option to provide 'information on a product’s overall nutritional value through a graded indicator' was considered by multiple stakeholder groups the most likely to encourage changes in food purchasing behaviour, reaching 83% among academic institutions, 72% among consumer organisations, 69% among citizens, 54% among NGOs and 62% among public authorities. Interestingly, a majority of respondents (59%) believe it is ‘very likely’ or ‘likely’ that food businesses whose products were bearing claims before the new criteria were introduced, but whose products do not meet the new criteria, will change the recipe of their products to make them healthier so that they can keep health and nutrition claims on their products.

The Commission proposal is expected in 2023.

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Author: Ivana Katsarova, Members' Research Service, legislative-train@europarl.europa.eu

As of 20/01/2023.