European Front-of-pack Nutritional Labelling Scheme: How to Foster Consensus? (cepInput)


The European Commission wants to present a proposal for a uniform Front-of-Pack label system for food by 2022. Labels on packaging should improve the understanding of the nutritional value of industrially produced food. The dispute between supporters of different systems is making waves.


The Centre for European Policy (cep) is urging the EU to put an end to this dispute. The cep partner institutes in Paris and Rome have analysed the situation in a study and developed solutions.

"The EU should launch a massive education campaign to improve understanding of the content of European labels," emphasise Italian cep expert Andrea De Petris and his French colleague Victor Warhem, the authors of the study. The aim is to prevent diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart problems through education.

So far, the French Nutri-Score, a traffic light informative system from A for healthy to E for the least healthy food, competes with the Italian NutrInform, which gives percentages for salt, sugar and fat. The Italians in particular fear that adopting the Nutri-Score would damage the image of supporters of a Mediterranean diet that was previously considered healthy, because products with olive oil, for example, could suddenly receive a negative label.

De Petris and Warhem urge the Commission to find a compromise. "A good solution would be, on the one hand, the British traffic light system, which combines elements of Nutri-Score and NutrInform. Or Brussels could leave the decision to the market. Then consumers can decide for themselves which system they prefer," the cep experts emphasise.

According to De Petris and Warhem, the Commission will have to take two other trends into account. "Not to be neglected are the development of digital apps for nutrition and claims on the sustainability of products," says cep expert Warhem.