EU proposals exempting alcohol from full consumer labelling may be reviewed early

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EU regulation on the full labelling of alcohol products  – which includes calories content, list of ingredients, and country of origin – may be reviewed in two years, three years ahead of originally proposed.

The move comes after the EU parliament’s Environment, Health and Food Safety Committee (ENVI) met recently to discuss the draft Regulation on the Provision of Food Information to Consumers as it enters second reading stage.

The Regulation on the Provision of Food Information to Consumers will legislate for information on labels of processed food and drink products.

Under the proposals, the labels of all processed food and drink products would include nutritional information, including the calorie content, the list of ingredients, information on allergens and the country of origin of a product.

The first reading vote in 2010 rejected the inclusion of alcohol from the new regulation, except for products already mixed – such as alcopops.

As a result, all other categories of alcohol – such as wine, beer, spirits – will be excluded from nutrition (including calorie content) and list of ingredients labelling. Information on allergens and country of origin, however, will be provided.

The exclusion of alcohol from the Regulation as currently drafted is temporary – it is proposed that its exclusion be reviewed in five years time.

It is of key importance that consumers are provided with information on the country of origin of a product. If the product and its primary ingredient(s) originate from different countries, the Regulation as drafted provides that information as to the country of origin of the primary ingredient is also made available.

A number of amendments to the Regulation were proposed at the ENVI meeting last week.

One key amendment proposes that the Commission produce a report addressing whether any category of alcohol should be exempted within two years rather than the five years originally proposed from the date of the application of the Regulation.

Then there will be a vote on the Regulation in the ENVI Committee in April followed by a full EU plenary vote in July.


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