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European Companies to Unveil Food Labels

BRUSSELS, Belgium

European food and drink companies said Monday they would introduce voluntary guidelines to show shoppers how much fat, fiber and sugar are packed into the food they buy as part of an EU push against a feared obesity epidemic.

The Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries in Europe said it would recommend that members clearly display on the front of every pack the calories per serving and what percentage this is of what an average adult should eat every day.

More detailed information on the back of the pack should list the guideline daily amounts for "public-health sensitive nutrients" such as energy, fat, saturated fat, sugars and sodium or salt.

The labels will list the amount of energy, protein, carbohydrate, sugars, fat, saturated fat, fiber and sodium or salt. They will also show the nutrition information per serving as well as for each 100g or 100ml.

The European trade group, which goes by the acronym CIAA, said common rules for nutrition information will help people easily understand the nutritional content of food and drink products. It said it had responded to a European Union push for better information on food labels.

The EU and the United States said in May they wanted to streamline their health policies to better combat obesity, which is becoming a big problem among young people. EU officials estimate some 204 million people in Europe are overweight and 61 million obese.

However, the CIAA label scheme is voluntary and there is no urgency for companies to change their labels. The group said this gives the industry flexibility for specific products and promises to monitor how companies implement the scheme

Salvatore Gabola, director of European Public Affairs for Coca-Cola told Dow Jones Newswires that his company would be following the recommendations.

"This is what our customers have been asking for," he said. "They need better and more extensive information so that they can make the right choices, and we need to show the way to other companies and move to market execution."

Gabola said it would take several months to have the new labels on supermarket shelves and up to 24 months to extend it across all product lines.

Efforts to outlaw misleading health claims for food were recently the center of a long lobbying campaign at EU level. The EU will phase in new laws on food labels over the next three years to combat false claims on the labels of everyday foods, like "fat free" or "high fiber."

The new rules will force companies that make health claims on their products, like the lowering of cholesterol or "calcium helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis" will require prior EU expert and scientific approval before it can be sold in the EU.

It will also force makers of fat and high sugar-content products to put warnings on their products if they claim added nutritional benefits like "contains Vitamin C."

Source Breitbart