New labelling rules for baby and special diet foods

RULES on the labelling and content of baby milks and foods for special medical purposes are to become better defined, under new European legislation.
The aim is to protect consumers and distinguish more clearly between foods for normal consumption and foods for specific groups. Legislation passed in the European Parliament in June specified the details of the new rules, which also cover some low-calorie diets.
“Infants, young children and seriously ill people are clearly not consumers like any others and it is our duty as legislator to fix stricter rules to govern, for example, the composition and labelling of foodstuffs intended for them,” said the rapporteur, Frédérique Ries (ADLE, BE), after the vote. “On the other hand, it is also important to establish order in the jungle of food products, by abolishing the concept of dietetic food cannibalised by marketing tools,” she added.

What are the new rules?
The new legislation simplifies and clarifies the rules on the labelling and the composition of infant formula and follow-on formula (for babies between six and 10 months), processed cereal-based food, food for special medical purposes and total diet replacement for weight control.
It also includes an exclusive list of substances such as vitamins and minerals that can be added to these foods. The labelling, presentation and advertising of infant formula and the labelling of follow-on formula must not “include pictures of infants, or other pictures or text which may idealise the use of such formula” in order “not to discourage breast-feeding”, the rules say.
However, it will still be permitted to use graphic representations for easy identification of the formula and for illustrating methods of preparation.

Milk benefits queried
The European Parliament has also asked the Commission to evaluate whether “growing-up milks” intended for toddlers really have “any nutritional benefits when compared to a normal diet for a child who is being weaned”. And furthermore the Commission is to assess whether legislation is needed for food intended for sportspeople.