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UK’s traffic light labels ‘could fragment the EU internal market’

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UK’s traffic light labels ‘could fragment the EU internal market’

June 29
10:24 2013

The UK’s adoption of a voluntary hybrid labelling scheme that combines guideline daily amounts (GDAs) and traffic light colour coding could lead to a proliferation of national schemes and fragment the EU internal market, claims FoodDrinkEurope.

The European trade body said that monochrome GDAs work well across Europe and are well-understood by consumers. All major UK retailers and a handful of major manufacturers have signed up to the voluntary scheme, introduced by the UK’s Department of Health on Wednesday.  UK retailers and some UK food manufacturers have been using traffic lights on their labelling for several years, although GDAs are dominant throughout Europe.

But FoodDrinkEurope said that any voluntary national scheme should be discussed and agreed at an EU level.

“FoodDrinkEurope expresses concern that this approach by an individual Member State may bring about a proliferation of different national voluntary schemes across Europe, which could fragment the EU Internal Market and cause confusion for consumers,” it said in an emailed statement.

“The Regulation on food information to consumers may theoretically allow for such a national scheme; however, we firmly believe that this is regrettable as the existence of different national schemes runs counter to the EU’s objective of the creation of one single European market.”

‘Listening to consumers’

Meanwhile, the European Consumer Organisation, BEUC, has called for European food manufacturers to follow the UK’s lead and add traffic light colour coding to front-of-pack nutrition labels.

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