EU ditches drinks labelling plans

By Chris Mercer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union

Plans to tighten ingredients labelling laws on alcoholic drinks
have been ditched by the European Commission as part of an
efficiency drive because not enough progress has been made.

The proposal, first launched back in 1997, had been intended to re-launch the debate on the list of ingredients for alcoholic beverages. It aimed in particular to provide rules for labelling the ingredients of drinks containing more than 1.2 per cent of alcohol by volume.

The Commission said the plans had now been dropped due to "a lack of progress in the Council [of Ministers]"​, and because no assessment of the proposal's effects had ever been done.

The move comes as part of the Commission's decision to write-off 68 proposals, which have either been sitting on the back-burner for too long, are no longer relevant or would hamper the EU's competitive position.

Also for the chop was a plan to authorise imports for direct human consumption of certain Australian wines that have been made using practices not recognised in the EU. This decision is somewhat intriguing in light of the recent EU-US deal to begin recognising each other's wine-making practices.

Those proposals kept by the Commission review include environmental proposals regarding the shipment of waste and controlling levels of fluorinated greenhouse gases. Both of these are now awaiting economic impact assessments.

The Commission said the ditched drinks ingredients proposal had been superceded by a broader nutrition and ingredient labelling agenda.

"In light of the need for a new and streamlined strategy regarding the whole labelling issue in the food sector, the Commission will present a global initiative in this area. A proper impact assessment will cover this initiative as a whole,"​ said the Commission in a statement.

It seems clear from this that the drinks industry will still face challenges alongside the rest of the food industry to improve labelling on products.

Ingredients labelling on food and drink products has become a big focus for the EU's emphasis on traceability and transparency in production.

One of the biggest upcoming challenges for producers will be allergen labelling rules (Directive 2003/89/EC, amending Directive 2000/13) that the Commission will start to enforce this November.

The regulations essentially mean food and drink makers must flag up a host of possible allergen ingredients and their derivatives on product labels.

The UK-based Brewing Research International will run a training seminar on 7 October to clarify the new allergen rules for alcoholic drinks makers.

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