European Food Information Regulations: Recent Developments
Since the introduction of supermarkets and prepackaged food, governments have been trying to encourage consumers to eat a healthier diet. The Regulation on the Provision of Food Information to Consumers, introduced in 2011, makes nutrition labelling mandatory for all prepackaged food except for food produced by the smallest producers. However, governments are concerned that the message of healthy eating is not getting to consumers and definitely is not changing consumer behaviour. The general consensus amongst professionals working in the field is that the stark details of the information given to consumers is difficult to understand and difficult to contextualise for the consumer. The technical format of the information is also easily overlooked by the consumer. Different governments have been addressing these issues in different ways. There has been a growth in interpretive labelling schemes such as the UK's traffic light scheme, while other governments have opted for a more positive endorsement of healthier foods, such as the keyhole logo in the Nordic countries. In the Regulation on the Provision of Food Information to Consumers, the European Commission is charged with looking at the effectiveness of these schemes. This chapter looks at the progress being made in different areas of nutrition labelling including interpretive nutrition labelling, the labelling of trans fatty acids, and the issue of health claims on labels. The chapter also address the issues being raised around tolerances and the work being undertaken to increase the scope of the rules on alcoholic drinks.