EU food labelling rules

The European Commission adopted a proposal, on the 30 January 2008, to make food labels clearer and more relevant to the needs of EU consumers. The aim of the draft Regulation is to modernise and improve EU food labelling rules, so that consumers have, in a legible and understandable manner, the essential information they need to make informed purchasing choices.

Under the proposal set out on the 30 January 2008, pre-packaged food will have to display key nutritional information on the front of the package. General requirements on how nutrition information should be displayed on food labels are also set out, although there is room for Member States to promote additional national schemes provided they do not undermine the EU rules. For public health reasons, the draft Regulation extends the current requirements for allergen labelling to cover non pre-packed food, including food sold in restaurants and other catering establishments. Industry should also benefit from the proposed new rules, as they set up a clearer, more harmonised legislative framework for food labelling and create a level playing field for all operators. The draft Regulation was drawn up following extensive consultations with consumer organisations, industry and other stakeholders.
Modern rules for a modern market

Consumers today are bombarded with information on the food they buy. Moreover, the way in which this information is presented is becoming ever more varied and complex, while the quality of food labels varies greatly from product to product and from one Member State to another. Research shows that many consumers feel confused or overwhelmed by modern food labels, and have difficulty in identifying the key information. The Commission's proposal aims to provide consumers with easy access to the most important information on food labels and to ensure some uniformity in its presentation across the 27 Member States. At the same time, the proposed new measures are flexible to market changes and seek to encourage innovation in the food industry.

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