EU negative vote on “x% less” or “no added” claims, but Australian labels risk remains

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 8th February 2012

The EU Parliament has voted against the labelling of food with “X% less” or “no added X” claims.

The Food and Drink Federation, the UK’s leading voice for the food and drink industry, has expressed disappointment with the vote, which took place on 2 February 2012. The UK industry said it was concerned about the potential impact on industry’s discouragement of industry formulation of healthier foods.

UK Food and Drink Federation’s response

Barbara Gallani, Director of Food Safety and Science at the UK’s Food and Drink Federation said, “This result is a blow for consumers and industry alike.’X% less’ and ‘no added X’ claims would have supported the food industry’s drive to gradually reformulate products, by making consumers readily aware of health improvements in their favourite products.”

Ms Gallani concluded by saying that “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 lack of understanding of the technical and consumer acceptance challenges that make changing recipes to reduce energy, fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt difficult.”


The Australian position on this issue

According to a leading Australian food lawyer and compliance expert, Joe Lederman of FoodLegal, the position in Australia is different from the EU.

In Australia, a claim of “x% less” or “no added” on a food label is considered to be a comparative claim and subject to scrutiny by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Mr Lederman said that for some such claims in relation to ingredients such as salt, sugar or fat, there are additional requirements under Australia’s food standards code.

Mr Lederman also pointed out that the Australian food industry has been working closely with the Australian government in reducing the less healthy ingredients in foods and also improving the display of nutritional and energy information more extensively – even beyond the labels into such areas as fast food menu boards. Australian Food News has also previously reported on such developments: