Starting in 2016, nutrition labelling in the European Union member states will have to include information about energy value and the amounts of fat, saturated fatty acids, carbohydrates, sugars, protein and salt. Last year the United Kingdom chose a mixed traffic lights nutrition labelling system which takes into account the amount of fat, sugar and salt, but ignores synthetic substances.
Lithuania and other EU member states have expressed concerns that such labelling is overly simplified and does not objectively reflect nutritional value of a product and the effects of its ingredients on health. Based on the system, products with synthetic ingredients may be regarded as more beneficial to people’s health than those with natural ingredients.
“Ironically, our best time-tested goods would be marked in red, deterring consumers from buying them,” said Minister of Agriculture Virginija Baltraitienė.
According to the minister, the traffic lights system discriminates against companies from other EU member states. Goods made in the UK that are marked in red are still well bought due to consumer habits. Meanwhile, entry of similar goods from other countries into the British market is impeded. In this case Lithuania supports an inquiry initiated by the European Commission over discrepancies of the UK’s nutrition labelling system as regards the EU laws.