On March 8, 2017 some of the biggest international food companies announced an initiative associated with the nutritional information declaration on food labels and have since been engaged in a dynamic development process.
Evolving & Improving
The idea behind Evolved Nutrition Labeling (ENL), color-coded portion-based scheme, in line with EU Food Labeling regulation as it has been evolved and improved over the years to respond to consumer needs and stakeholder expectations, is to encourage smaller portion sizes and support healthier consumer choices.
The importance of having a meaningful, consistent and single nutrition labeling scheme for consumers was identified and it was agreed that it should be accelerated to the pan-European level allowing harmonization among food business operators and efforts to be focused on education and awareness building.
Integrating Portion Sizes
In particular, under this initiative the companies1 that undersigned it agreed to launch a taskforce which looks into integrating portion sizes in the existing color-coded Reference Intake scheme as applied in the UK and Ireland.
The developments and progress of work is shared with other food industry players, retailers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the European Commission (EC) to gather feedback and identify a credible workable solution.
Guided by the provisions of article 35 of EU Regulation 1169/2011, this taskforce of expert stakeholders explores solutions to better integrate portion sizes into the current color-coded scheme.
ENL Key Features
On April 23, 2018 ENL was presented to an EU joint meeting on front of pack labeling. In this meeting academia introduced a credible proposal for EU reference portion sizes, a key aspect of labeling which is missing from EU legislation.
The key features of ENL are:
- Provision of simple, easy-to-understand and meaningful nutrition labeling information
- Built on the existing EU-wide reference intake scheme
- Addition of colors to the numbers that reflect the nutrients’ content per actual portion consumed
- Provision of accurate consumer information about what is in the portion they are consuming
At the same time, a consumer survey was carried out across seven countries to validate ENL understanding and usefulness. The findings of this survey were also presented to the EU joint meeting. More than 93% of consumers prefer the colored label when compared directly with monochrome. An encouraging 82% of consumers that took part in the survey found ENL “easy to understand” and more than 80% are able to access correctly the nutrient content of food and beverages.
In six of the seven countries participating in the survey, consumers preferred the per portion labeling. This result was much to be expected, as most of the time food is consumed in portions, not measured in servings of 100g or 100ml.
Proposals on next steps will be introduced by the stakeholders who initiated this project. Real-life ENL trials in EU member states have been requested to allow stakeholders to “learn by doing”, to contribute to an EU led process and to work with all stakeholders to support consumers with simple, easy to understand and meaningful nutrition labeling – the project’s original and overriding goal.
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