Thursday, 14 June 2018

"Food labels: tricks of the trade" - BEUC's report

On the same day that the Commission announces common methodology on comparing quality of similarly packaged food products, BEUC publishes its report "Food labels: tricks of the trade" on misleading labeling practices in the food sector in the EU (see more Food labels can fool you...). Three practices that have been further elaborated on are:
  • labeling products as 'traditional' or 'artisanal';
  • displaying fruit pictures on packaging for products that have little or no actual fruit content;
  • labeling as 'whole grain' products with barely any fibre.
 The result of consumer confusion and misleading advertising practices may be the result of the lack of EU guidelines in this area of food products' advertising and labeling.

BEUC calls for:
  • more definitions on the EU level of commonly used terms on food products' labels, such as 'natural', 'traditional' or 'artisanal';
  • setting a minimum level of whole grain content for 'whole grain' claims;
  • setting a minimum level of content for ingredients pictured on the front of the pack, e.g. fruits;
  • obliging traders to display on the front of the pack the percentage of the advertised ingredient.
These recommendations would not only increase transparency of the composition of food products or facilitate better consumer decision-making, but also provide for a more fair food products' market in the EU.

E.g. the report mentions that while this product has many fruits on the packaging, they are only 2.5% of all ingredients

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