News article

2 February 2012

European Parliament vote against 'X% less' labelling misses opportunity to drive change

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PRESS RELEASE

Following this morning's vote by members of the European Parliament against the European Commission's proposed amendment to allow food manufacturers to use the 'X% less' and 'no added salt' claims on their products, the UK food and drink industry has expressed disappointment and concerns about the potential impact on industry's reformulation work.

The Food and Drink Federation's[1] Barbara Gallani, Director of Food Safety and Science, highlights the likely implications for industry and consumers. She said:

“Today's result is a blow for consumers and industry alike. 'X% less' and 'no added salt' claims would have supported the food industry's drive to gradually reformulate products, even where technically challenging, by making consumers readily aware of health improvements in their favourite products."

“The European Parliament has failed to acknowledge the enormous efforts and investments that the food and drink manufacturing industry has been putting into product reformulation. The Parliament has also shown a complete lack of understanding of the technical and consumer acceptance challenges that make changing recipes to reduce energy, fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt so difficult."

“The vote against this amendment suggests that MEPs have underestimated both consumers' ability to read food labels and desire to make informed decisions about the foods that make up their diet. The support given to the amendment by the European Commission and Member states, coupled with the fact that the ban was carried by only 15 votes, heightens our disappointment and belief that this was a missed opportunity."[3]

“Product reformulation is an important part of industry's efforts to improve consumer health, with data indicating that two thirds of dietary changes are typically driven from reformulation rather than consumers switching products.[2] Taking away this incentive to undertake a step-wise approach to the time and cost intensive reformulation process will have negative repercussions on progress in this area. However, in spite of today's hurdle, the food and drink industry remains committed to improving public health through reformulation, amongst other activity.”

Notes for editors

  1. The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) is the voice of the food and drink manufacturing industry – the UK's largest manufacturing sector.
  2. Source: Kantar Worldpanel.
  3. Under the rules, 378 rules were needed to secure the ban using the European Parliament's powers of scrutiny. 393 votes were made to ban the claim.

More information

For further information please contact the FDF press Team:

Nicki Hunt on or 020 7420 7132 - nicki.hunt@fdf.org.uk
Rebecca Wilhelm or 020 7420 7140 - rebecca.wilhelm@fdf.org.uk
Sarah Jenkinson or 020 7420 7131 - sarah.jenkinson@fdf.org.uk
Anna Taylor or 020 7420 7118 - anna.taylor@fdf.org.uk

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