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You are what you eat – even if you don't know what it is! - 07/02/2008

Bread rolls and cured meats

Food labelling to be made clearer and more relevant under new Commission proposal.

Labels should serve their purpose and clearly tell us what we want to know. Food labels are invaluable in informing our choice as consumers, covering everything from life-threatening conditions such as peanut allergies, to the more mundane, such as salt content or fat types.

Under a new Commission proposal , key information would have to be clearly displayed on the front of the package. Allergen labelling for peanuts, milk, mustard and fish would cover not only pre-packaged food but also food sold in restaurants, cafés, etc.

Clearer labelling helps us eat more healthily, as we can see exactly what we are getting. Under the new rules, information on energy, fat, carbohydrates, sugar and salt would have to declare the content per 100ml/g (or per portion of the product) and proportion of recommended daily allowances.

A proposed minimum print size of 3mm would mean that we need no longer strain to find the information we are looking for. Marketing slogans would no longer be allowed to detract from mandatory information.

Introducing the proposal, health commissioner Kyprianou explained "Food labels can have a huge influence on consumers' purchasing decisions. Confusing, overloaded or misleading labels can be more of a hindrance than a help to the consumer. Today's proposal aims to ensure that food labels carry the essential information in a clear and legible way, so that EU citizens are empowered to make balanced dietary choices".

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