Nordic ministers write to the EU about new food labelling

28.06.22 | News
nyckelhålssymbol på matpaket
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Johannes Jansson/norden.org
The new European food label must be based on scientific research and not driven by commercial interests. That’s what the Nordic ministers responsible for food policy wrote in a joint letter to the EU.

In the EU, a process is underway to perform mandatory labelling of all foods, which would guide the consumer in making healthy choices when shopping for food.

This could be in a form of a label on the front of the food packaging, displaying whether the contents are good or not so good for our health.   

It can compete with the Keyhole

A mandatory EU label could compete with the existing national and regional labels, such as the Nordic Keyhole label, which has been used in the Nordic Region for 30 years.   

The Keyhole, together with the Finnish Heart Symbol is based on Nordic, research-based nutritional recommendations. 

The Nordic ministers responsible for food and health matters now hope that the Nordic labelling scheme can inspire the European one.  

 

Experience with functional labelling

“As the European Commission is going to develop a front-of-pack label for food products’ nutritional quality, we'd like to contribute. The Nordic Region has had extensive experience in developing and using nutrition labelling as a tool for making healthier choices,” says Ingvild Kjerkol, Minister of Health and Care Services in Norway.

Encouraging product development

Although the responsibility for developing the Nordic food label lies with the governments, this takes place in close co-operation between consumers, research, and industry.

This has produced a widely recognisable and credible label and, at the same time, motivated the food industry to ensure the ongoing evolution of their products. 

In their letter to the European Commission, the Nordic ministers wrote that they hope for a similar open and knowledge-based process in which researchers and stakeholders are involved in developing the regulations for the new EU label.  

Concerns over a deterioration in food exports

It’s crucial that the label be based on evidence and research. The Nordic ministers believe that the focus of any label must be the nutritional value of the food and how healthy it is, not commercial interests. 

The EU’s process for developing a common food label has sparked discussion and concern from many stakeholders who are afraid that the label will result in poor advertising for important gastronomic export products.

The Nordic Region contributes updated dietary advice

In the Nordic Region, efforts to update the Nordic nutrition recommendations are drawing to a close. The updated recommendations will be published in June 2023. For the first time, sustainability criteria will be included in the dietary guidelines. 

The ministers hope that the new Nordic nutritional recommendations will be useful for the new EU food labelling schemes.