EU plans more precise labeling of food

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No misleading health-related advertising for food in the future

The EU Commission approved a list in Brussels on Wednesday, which initially contains 222 health claims for food that can also be used after December 2012. In the future, misleading advertising slogans such as “Good for the immune system” should disappear from food packaging. For consumers, this means more reliability when it comes to food information.

Manufacturers have half a year for more reliable health claims
With its decision, the EU Commission wants to ensure that dubious, misleading advertising for food disappears from product packaging and that consumers can rely on the information. Products with packaging on which misleading advertising slogans can be found, such as that probiotic yogurt would strengthen the immune system, may therefore only be sold in supermarkets until December of this year. This is how long the manufacturers have to correct the health-related packaging information in accordance with the specifications of the EU Commission.

The list was based on sound scientific knowledge, the commission said. The review of the partially misleading advertising claims was carried out by the European Food Safety Authority EFSA in Parma. The EU had around 44,000 applications for approval at the beginning of 2008. Since most of them overlap, some applications could be summarized. However, most were rejected by the experts. Others are still under review. The list is accessible to the public on the Internet and is to be continuously updated and supplemented.

The ban on unauthorized advertising claims must be enforced by the national authorities. Manufacturers have the option to request a review of the disputed statements from the EU testers. The European Parliament and the Member States have not raised any objections to the list. The European consumer protection center BEUC and the German consumer ministry already reacted very positively to the new regulation to protect consumers in March.

Further strengthen consumer interests
The study "Trends in Food Marketing" recently presented by the Federal Association of Consumer Centers has shown that consumers have an increasing interest in high quality standards as well as regionally and organically produced foods. However, due to the confusing information on the food packaging, many felt overwhelmed and would therefore resort to the cheapest product. Consumer advocates see this as a market failure that should be addressed immediately. Consumer interests should generally be of greater importance. Even before the introduction of food products, future customers should be asked about the understandability of the information on the packaging in order to avoid confusion and misleading statements, the Federal Association of Consumer Centers said. (ag)

Read also on the topic of food labeling:
Too much salt in ready meals
Success for consumer portal food clarity

Image: Thommy Weiss /

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