The Council reached a political agreement on 14 November on food labelling requirements for foodstuffs containing allergenic ingredients.
On 14 November, EU Ministers meeting in the Competitiveness Council endorsed the Commission's proposal for an amendment to the Food Labelling Directive. The amendment aims to ensure that consumers are informed of the complete contents of foodstuffs, therefore enabling people with allergies to identify any allergenic ingredients that may be present.
Under the new proposal, the indication of the list of ingredients is compulsory where the compound ingredient constitutes more than 2 per cent of the finished product, as opposed to 5 per cent of the initial proposal. Based on current legislation, the labelling threshold is 25 per cent.
Currently 3 per cent of the adult population and 8 per cent of children suffer from food allergies or food intolerance in the European Union. These allergies often cause illnesses and can also provoke life-threatening reactions, for instance, in the case of asthma patients. Therefore, allergic consumers need to have complete and precise labelling in order to be able to avoid products that contain allergens.
Following the adoption of a Council common position in an upcoming meeting, the Parliament's second reading is expected in early 2003. Following Parliament's endorsement, Member States will have one year to transpose the Directive, after which a one-year transition period is granted to manufacturers to comply with the new labelling rules.