News
On the 7th of December, the Council of the European Union (which represents the governments of the EU’s 27 Member States) reached a political agreement on the draftFood Information to Consumers Regulation.This draft was first issued by the European Commission in 2008, and has since then been under discussion in the European Parliament and Council, following the standard procedure for law-making at EU level. A controversial vote was held in Parliament on the issue in June 2010. This resulted in many amendmentsto the original draft, including the rejection of a system of ‘traffic light’ labelling to alert consumers to health hazards and benefits of food products. The original also attempted to set clearer rules on the labelling of allergens in food products, and EFA and many members spearheaded by our Food Allergy Working Group campaigned vigorously during the parliamentary vote to have this happen. Precautionary labelling and phrases on packages such as ‘may contain’ do little to alert allergen sufferers of the real contents of a product, and lack of information on non-prepacked foods (i.e. foods served in restaurants and prepared on the spot) is one of the leading causes of severe allergenic reactions in people. While the Parliament agreed that allergen information in pre-packed food must be available, they rejected the amendment proposed by the Green group to set up guidelines for allergen management as a first step for rules for precautionary labelling. EFA welcomes the Council's opinion that providing allergen information on non-prepacked food should be ‘mandatory’, but objects to their proposal for minimum font size of 1,2 mm for labelling, compared to the Commission proposal of 3mm and Parliament’s to consult stakeholders on the minimum size needed. Because the opinions of the Parliament and Council differ considerably on certain issues, the Regulation will very likely now undergo a second vote in the Parliament. This is expected to take place in March or April 2011. A final agreement may still be quite some time off however, owing to the controversial nature of the legislation, and the differing opinions of the EU bodies. EFA intends to keep working so that people with food allergy may benefit from clearer rules and access to information that they should be entitled to in order to manage their condition. Susanna Palkonen and Patricia Murray If any EFA members are interested in joining our Food Allergy Working Group, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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