Roisin O’Sullivan, Bord Bia Madrid
According to a recent survey published in the Spanish trade magazine ‘Distribucion Actualidad’, 90% of Spanish people believe that knowing how to interpret nutritional information on food and drink packaging is the key to maintaining a healthy diet. Some 75% of those surveyed were satisfied with the availability of information displayed on packaging, while 63% agreed that it is easy to find. However, 4 out of every 10 people surveyed stated that they have difficulty understanding the information and consider the classic format in which nutritional information is displayed (i.e. 100g/ml) to be insufficient.
It is important to note that in Spain the practice of displaying RDA information on packaging is voluntary, and often food packaging only gives information per 100g/ml. However, the fact that 61% of Spanish people think that the information provided by the RDA labelling system is superior to that provided by the classic one, gives reason to believe that it is time for a change.
In light of recent discussions in the European Parliament, this change may well be imminent, as a directive to introduce an obligatory Europe-wide system of standard RDA labelling has been supported by deputies. In principal, the labelling would be standardised in terms of font type, and contrast between the font and background. As part of the proposed scheme, a traffic light system, like that which is already used in the UK and Ireland, would also be introduced.
At present, the indication of origin is obligatory for some products, like veal, fruit, vegetables, honey and olive oil. In line with the new guidelines, deputies have suggested broadening the range of products required to display their origin of supply to include all meat, fish, poultry and other products with fish as an ingredient. The most controversial of these suggestions is the idea of being obliged to shown the origin of fish and meat when they are used as ingredients in processed food.