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01/01/2007

Results of DG SANCO's consultation on Labelling

According to the Commission Work Plan, DG SANCO is scheduled to issue a new legislative proposal on food and drink labeling in 2007.

In order to gather the thoughts from stakeholders on the revision of food labelling (including that of alcoholic beverages) DG SANCO launched a public consultation last year the results of which can now be downloaded from http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/labellingnutrition/betterregulation/lab_cons_summary.pdf

Summary of the responses on health warning labels on alcoholic beverages containers:

The respondents: In total 50 of 175 respondents commented specifically on health warning labels but there are also responses that commented on more general issues such as; responsible drinking messages, labelling of units/drinks, ingredients labelling and nutritional labelling on alcoholic containers.

Twenty-five of the responses were sent in from companies or other bodies financed or closely linked to the industry, three came from private individuals, 11 from NGOs and 11 from Member States (two from different Spanish Ministries). Most of the respondents are representing the agricultural or consumer field and not the public health field.

The expressed opinions

Fifteen responses were strongly supporting the introduction of health warning labels at EU level, 8 were in favour of more research on health warning labels before supporting and introducing standardized health warning labels at EU level. Twenty one of the responses were strongly negative and six were slightly negative, for example several respondents expressed that, if warning labels would be introduced at Member States level, they would prefer to have standardized labels at EU level to avoid technical barriers to trade.

A clear negative position on health warning labels was expressed mainly by responses from those representing the industry:

Industry or bodies' financed or close to industry: 16 responses

NGOs 0 “

Member States 3 “

Private 0 “

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Total 19 responses

A clear positive position on health warning labels was expressed mainly by responses from those representing consumer and health NGOs, private individuals and Member States

Industry or bodies' financed or close to industry 0 responses

NGOs 8 “

Member States 63 “

Private 2 “

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Total 15 responses

The lack of good quality research in the EU to support the introduction of health warning labelling was highlighted mainly by industry respondents who felt that any introduction of health warning labels should be supported by clear evidence that they would change behaviour. Seven of the responses requested more research before they could take any clear position on the issue.

Industry or bodies financed or close to industry 5 responses

NGOs 1 “

Member States 0 “

Private 1 “

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Total 7 responses

Certain stakeholders indicated that they could change their position if several Member States would introduce health warning labels. There were some comments from the industry that mandatory labelling could be envisaged instead of facing a situation with different health warning labels in the EU. Some parts of the industry (mainly the branded part of the alcohol industry) are currently discussing and reflecting upon voluntary labelling within their organisations. This pragmatic position (more negative than positive) was expressed by the following respondents;

Industry bodies financed or close to the industry 4 responses

NGOs 2 “

Member States 24 “

Private 0 “

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Total 8 responses