March has been about paying tribute to all the women leaving their mark in the world, no matter how big or small. From the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Ms Stella Kyriakides, to the Director-General of the Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety, Ms Sandra Gallina, and the European Food Safety Authority’s Chief Scientist Ms Marta Hugas, the European food policy world is led by women who are set to implement one of the most comprehensive reforms to ever hit the sector, the Farm to Fork Strategy. That’s no easy feat, but this newsletter team wishes them every success along the way!
This month we focus on the Commission’s proposal to introduce a harmonised nutrition labelling scheme by the end of the year, as part of the Farm to Fork Strategy (F2F). While in Brussels discussions are still ongoing over which features of current nutrition labels should be adopted at the EU level, Member States are taking it upon themselves to show the Commission how successful their existing schemes already are.
In Spain, the Government created an exemption for the olive oil sector to ensure it is not impacted by a negative Nutri-score rating, addressing concerns from many southern European food producers of traditional foodstuffs. The Member States which have unilaterally adopted the Nutri-score have got together to coordinate the use and adoption of the label, while in Sweden the Nordic Keyhole nutrition label continues to be expanded in its reach. Although Member States recognise, at least on paper, the need for a harmonised nutrition label, none of them wishes to be asked to depart from the one it currently uses. There are 27 cooks in the kitchen, so it’s all about who can more efficiently persuade the Commission. Keep your eyes peeled!
You can read this month’s most relevant developments in the food and nutrition space below:
Spain keeps olive oil out of Nutri-score rollout: The Spanish Minister for Consumer Affairs has revealed that the olive oil sector will be exempt from the rollout of the Nutri-score nutrition label in the country. Across Europe, other producers of highly-calorie and traditionally-southern-Mediterranean foods, from jamón to fromage are ready to ask for nothing less than what olive oil got.
Taking matters into their own hands: The EU’s Nutri-score-loving Member States have come together to form a Transnational Coordination Mechanism to promote and coordinate the Nutri-score front-of-pack nutrition label across the bloc.
Does Nutri-score even work…? Oui!, says the French Public Health Authority. In a series of surveys conducted since the label was first introduced in the country on a voluntary basis in 2017, it was found that over 500 food and drinks brands in France have been converted to the Nutri-score, with over 90% of French consumers finding the Nutri-score logo useful in assessing a product’s nutritional quality.
But the battle is not over yet: Sweden, a fierce defender of the Nordic Keyhole nutrition label, has introduced new rules to ensure consumers can easily identify the healthier food alternatives when shopping. The label’s reach has been expanded to include plant-based foods and healthier ready meals, in a clear display that the Keyhole label is here to stay.
United for Aloe: A Brussels trade body has launched a petition to increase pressure against the European Commission’s decision to restrict certain hydroxyanthracene derivatives (HDAs) in food supplements, obtained from Aloe. This proposal received the green light in the Council in January, despite trade associations’ arguing that current uses of HDA in food supplements are safe for consumers.
Let’s take it slow: The British government has unilaterally agreed to a four-month extension to Irish Sea Border checks on agri-food products entering Northern Ireland. The plan, which the EU has labelled as illegal, will give agri-food producers until October 2021 to prepare for the border check requirements.
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If your business needs any support or advice in navigating these policy challenges, or if you have any questions about how these may impact your industry, please do get in touch by contacting Viviana Spaghetti, Director of European Affairs at Viviana.Spaghetti@whitehousecomms.com