THE UK’s voluntary “traffic light” system of food labelling is being investigated by the European Commission in the wake of complaints from several member states that the scheme will have a detrimental effect on the sales of regional products.
Earlier in the year representatives from Italy accused the system of “clearly influencing consumer choice”, and made the case that the prominent red label on products like hams and cheeses would put people off buying them.
The scheme was defended by Glenis Willmot, health spokesperson for Labour MEPs. “I strongly condemn attempts to stop the traffic light scheme through a spurious legal case”, she said. “After heavy industry lobbying defeated my proposals for EU-wide traffic-light labelling, some in the industry are now trying to stop a perfectly legitimate national scheme.”
“The EU legislation is clear that individual countries can implement voluntary labelling schemes, which is exactly what is happening in the UK. Whilst a lot of retailers and some producers have signed up, nobody is forced to. Similar schemes exist in other EU Member States, such as the keyhole scheme used in Nordic countries.” Willmot is still hopeful it might be possible to implement the scheme through EU legislation in the future.