EU health chief not satisfied with industry’s alcohol labelling proposal

EU Commissioner in charge of Health and Food safety, Lithuanian Vytenis Andriukaitis. [OLIVIER HOSLET/EPA]

EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis is not pleased with the “inconsistent” proposal recently submitted by the alcohol industry on labelling and insisted that European consumers should be presented the full information of the products they purchase.

“Our path is clear and we are doing the legal assessment [of the proposal]. At first sight, I am not satisfied with the proposal because it is not consistent and does not address some issues related to information for consumers: consumers should be fully informed.

But we need to see what our lawyers will say first,” Andriukaitis told EURACTIV.com in an exclusive statement.

Last March, the alcohol industry presented its much-awaited self-regulatory proposal on labelling. The main feature of the proposal was the flexibility among the different alcohol sectors.

According to the proposal, alcohol makers will be free to decide whether to place information on the label, online or both.

There is a common part accompanied by four sectorial annexes that explain in more detail what each sector will do (beer, wine, spirits, cider).

The general principle is that individual producers will be able to decide what information they provide on the label and online. Others, including the high number of SMEs and micro-enterprises that produce alcoholic beverages, are likely to use online means only.

Andriukaitis said the proposal was not exactly the same from one sector to another. “We will be assessing how to move forward and what our next steps are. Our interest is to make sure that consumers are informed.”

Referring to the regulation on the provision of food information to consumers, Andriukaitis said it required that full information be presented to consumers, explaining that “requirements that consumers should be informed are in place”.

Asked what the Commission is planning to do next, the EU health chief said that the wine industry asked the EU executive to come up with legislation.

“It’s in their proposal. We can assess it. Ultimately, it is not only my decision how to move forward,” the Lithuanian official concluded.

Background

Alcohol labelling proposal fails to end debate on calories

The alcohol industry presented on 12 March their self-regulatory proposal on labelling, focusing on “flexibility” for wine, beer, spirits and cider. Alcohol makers will be free to decide whether to place information on the label, online or both.

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