The German confectionery association (BDSI) has argued that consumers are overloaded with confusing, contradictory nutrition information on product labels and further regulation is not the way forward.
At the political meeting ‘Confectionery in Dialogue’ last week in Brussels, BDSI disputed calls from German NGOs to clamp down on advertising to children under 18 and introduce a traffic light labeling system similar to the UK.
The key issue was whether consumers needed more nutrition information on packaging or whether too much information was confusing.
Is too much info confusing?
BDSI invited Gunther Hirschfelder, a cultural anthropologist from the University of Regensburg, to the event who said there was more nutrition information available than ever before, much of which is contradictory.
Solveig Schneider, media relations at BDSI, told ConfectioneryNews.com: “People don’t know what to believe anymore. Consumers are more confused nowadays than they were 20 years ago.”
Hirschfelder said the best thing to do was to educate children, such as giving cooking lessons in schools, rather than introduce further labeling rules.
“We thought that consumer education is much more helpful than regulatory avenues,” added Schneider.
BDSI fears that food labeling regulations will come under the spotlight during the September 2013 German general elections as political parties push for change.
The ‘average consumer’
A 1998 case heard by the European Court of Justice held that product labels will be considered misleading depending on the “presumed expectations of average reasonably well-informed, observant and circumspect consumer”.
Schneider said: “BDSI is happy with the definition of the European court. The rules already protect consumers.”
BDSI argues there is no need for further information on labels as the average consumer spends little time observing the nutritional information.
New EU rules
New EU labelling rules (EU Regulation 1169/2011) are set to enter force on 12 December 2014. The rules include new regulations on highlighting allergens in products, such as peanuts, and instructions to make font sizes bigger and more legible.
German confectioner Ritter Sport said in an interview with the site earlier this week that the new font size rules were its biggest challenges of the year. See HERE .