In a letter sent to members of the European parliament, Clitravi (the European Association for the Meat Processing Industry) secretary general Dirk Dobbelaere and the European Dairy Association (EDA) secretary general Alexander Anton petitioned for a voluntary and harmonised scheme to bring the EU together.
The new scheme would replace the disparate systems already in place across the continent.
“Although they are voluntary, many systems are promoted by public authorities and/or actively supported by the retail sector,” the letter read. “As you know, the promotion of compliance with a technical rule means a qualification as a ‘de facto’ rule.
‘Huge uncertainties and difficulties’
“Unfortunately, both national governments – by promoting these schemes – and the European Commission – by not taking the lead of the internal market back in hands – are creating huge uncertainties and difficulties among operators.”
The new system of FOP nutrition labelling, they proposed, would be more informative, facilitate the understanding of its nutritional characteristics and not communicate its supposed and over-simplified health properties – provided that such form of expression was transparent, objective and non-discriminatory.
Calls were also made for the new system to be science-based, but opposed a purely mathematical approach that combined the different composition of a very limited number of macronutrients in order to formulate a ranking of the food.
Not forced to reformulate
Finally, the EDA and Clitravi warned against any system that would force producers to modify their products for the sake of achieving a better nutritional score on the packaging.
“Many of these cunning schemes, by undermining aspects difficult to copy or imitate, such as tradition and culture, risk flattening the diversified European food cultural heritage leaving the EU motto – in varietate concordia – a dead letter,” Dobbelaere and Anton added.
“Rather than judging food, we are firmly convinced that labelling is a part of a wider food educational process. That is why we are engaged to communicate in a transparent way the characteristics of our products and let the consumers choose on the basis of their real needs and cultural habits.”