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Food and Feed Safety (14-03-2006)

DG SANCO seeks stakeholder views on its approach to labelling legislation.

The European Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection (DG SANCO) wants to find out how labels and labelling can best meet the needs of the consumer. To do so it launched a process on March 9, to gather stakeholders’ opinions on the use of labels and labelling as a way to contribute to Better Regulation in the EU. DG SANCO is keen to hear what stakeholders and individuals think about how labels are currently used, and how they would like to see the EU dealing with labelling issues.
An important market tool
Labelling is important for both consumers and industry. For consumers, labels provide essential information such as use-by dates and safety warnings, as well as other useful data such as nutritional and recycling details.
For industry, labelling allows them to pass on vital information, but also to highlight the benefits of their product in comparison to the competition, such as whether it was produced in an environmentally-friendly or sustainable way.
DG SANCO would like to hear stakeholders’ views on the current uses of labelling and how far there is scope to rethink the way the EU deals with labelling issues.


Providing necessary information in an efficient way
The European Commission has launched this consultation because it wants to know what consumers most need to know with a label, and how to deliver that in the most efficient way.
The goal is to have an overall approach for labelling that will:
  • Provide consumers with necessary information to enable them to make safe, healthy and sustainable choices.
  • Create a pro-competitive market environment in which dynamic, efficient, innovative operators can make full use of the power of labelling to sell their products.
  • Be consistent, coherent and transparent.
  • Create a common framework and rules in order to eliminate barriers to the free circulation of goods and to avoid consumer confusion.


The consultation asks stakeholders to consider whether DG SANCO’s current approach to labelling helps meet this strategic goal and objectives. It asks stakeholders to consider such questions as:
  • What changes, if any, should be made to the current approach? (e.g. simplification, more or less prescription)
  • Should food and non-food labelling be dealt with together or separately?
  • Does industry currently have enough flexibility to quickly adapt to changing consumer demand?
  • Are there alternatives to legislation?
  • How do small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) deal with changes to labelling legislation?
  • What is the potential for making use of logos and symbols?
  • As labels have such a limited size, how do you prioritise what should go on them?
These issues are then considered with respect to specific labelling issues, e.g. nutrition, origin, GMOs, welfare, product safety.
How to respond:
The background paper DG SANCO is using to frame these discussions can be found here:
It has been sent to Member States and it will be discussed during meetings of the following groups:
  • Advisory Group on the Food Chain and Animal and Plant Health
  • European Consumer Consultative Group (March 29)
  • Consumer Policy Network of senior consumer officials (June 14)
  • Health Policy Forum (April 5).

    Individual responses to the paper are also welcome. These should reach the dedicated e-mail box by 16 June 2006. They may include general comments but should otherwise be structured to match the sections in the text.