A balanced and healthy diet affects
well-being and health. According to the WHO,
poor eating habits are often the cause of obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus or
cardiovascular disease. The development of certain types of cancer is also
influenced by dietary habits. Therefore, poor dietary behaviour in the EU is a
leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Europe.
Helping consumers to make informed choices
Report 2019 (German only) published by the Federal Ministry of Food and
Agriculture shows that Germans are increasingly making conscious decisions when
buying food. However, making an informed choice about buying healthy food is
often only possible when consumers have the appropriate knowledge or do their
Regulation No. 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers
regulates the labelling of foodstuffs in the European Union and sets out
uniform minimum requirements. This Regulation stipulates, for example, the
legibility of information on packaging, minimum font sizes, the descending
order of ingredients by weight at the time of production and the listing of food
Comparison of European countries
A survey of consumers in Germany shows that
the Nutri-Score® system is the most widely recognised and understood of
nutritional labelling systems (e.g. BLL model, Keyhole® or MRI model).
As stated in the coalition agreement,
enhanced nutritional labelling will be introduced in Germany, but initially this
will not be mandatory. The national legislative process is planned for 2020 and
must be approved by Brussels.
In France, Nutri-Score® was introduced as a
voluntary labelling system in 2017. Nutritional labelling has subsequently
become mandatory in France. Belgium and Spain followed in 2018 in the form of a
voluntary commitment by the private sector. The introduction of nutrition
labelling is also being discussed in Portugal, Luxembourg and Switzerland.
Thus, there is currently a mishmash of
national regulations in Europe. Some manufacturers (e.g. Nestlé, Iglo) and
retailers (Albert Hejn (NL), Delhaize (BE), Aldi Suisse (CH, 2020) are now
taking matters into their own hands and implementing voluntary nutrition
labelling for their products using the Nutri-Score® model. However, some of
these products are based on different units.
Will there be a uniform system in Europe?
The Member States have not yet been able to
agree on a single model at European level.
Some Member States have stated that their
regional economies would be negatively affected because of the individual
influence on purchasing decisions. Regional products, such as certain cheeses,
olive oils or sausages, for example, would be consumed less if labelled.
According to the OECD,
colour-coded ‘traffic light’ systems increase the number of consumers likely to
purchase a healthier option by about 18%, which leads to a 4% reduction in
calorie intake. Consumer
advocates support the introduction of uniform nutritional labelling in the
On 30 April 2019, the European Commission
registered the citizens’ initiative ‘Pro Nutri-Score’ in its Decision
2019/718. The initiative now has until 8 May 2020 to collect at least one
million votes from at least seven EU Member States supporting the initiative.
The European Commission must then take action.