Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Questions (125)

Rory O'Hanlon


137 Deputy Rory O’Hanlon asked the Minister for Health and Children when legislation will be introduced for the labelling of food; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46607/09]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health and Children)

Food labelling is currently governed by Council Directive 2000/13/EC, transposed in 2002, with several amendments since. This applies to the labelling of pre-packaged foodstuffs for sale to the ultimate consumer or for supply to mass caterers. The principle underlying this directive is that the purchaser must not be misled and it has helped to ensure that the consumer is provided with the information required to make healthy consumption choices. In January 2008, the European Commission presented its proposals on updating and harmonising this legislation. The proposal is still under discussion. This proposal envisages the consolidation of existing legislation in the area of food labelling and the introduction of new provisions for Country of Origin Labelling, a mandatory nutrition declaration and allergen labelling, amongst others.

In November 2008, Ireland submitted its position paper on the proposal. This paper was informed by submissions made to the FSAI by many of the key stakeholders. Ireland's position was further informed by the recently published Food Safety Authority of Ireland 2009 labelling survey. In its position paper, Ireland

supports mandatory Country of Origin Labelling,

shares the concerns of a significant number of other member states with regard to National Schemes,

welcomes the proposal for mandatory allergen labelling and supports the highlighting of allergens on labels,

supports the equal treatment of all alcohol products,

asks that consideration should be given to bringing alcohol products into the scope of the legislation,

supports the retention of the Commission's proposal with regard to the use of "per portion" expression alone in certain cases, and

does not support the proposal for a minimum font size of 3mm for display of mandatory particulars and suggests that other aids to legibility, such as contrasting background, be explored.

Since January 2008 a number of meetings have taken place at European Union Working Group level, attended by officials from Department of Health and Children and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. The next meeting is due to take place on 11 and 12 January 2010. On 16 March 2009, the European Parliament examined the proposal. Parliament has indicated, however, that it will not be in a position to conduct the first reading of the document until early 2010.