News 20.03.2024

EU Commission has to prioritise nutrition now

  • politics and law
  • Transparency and food safety
Tina Westiner / foodwatch

foodwatch is urging the EU to make better nutrition a big focus in the next mandate. Asking for clear food labels, stricter rules on health claims, and a ban on junk food ads for kids are essential steps to a healthier food environment and improve public health.

As the term of the current European Union (EU) mandate ends, it's crucial to reflect on the progress made in key areas of policy. Particularly concerning the nutritional aspects of food. In an open letter sent to the EU Commission on 19 March 2024, foodwatch called on the EU Commission to commit to putting nutrition at the centre of a prevention policy for disease in the next mandate and make key measures a priority in the political agenda. 

Suzy Sumner, Head of the Brussels Office
I'm deeply concerned about the EU's slow progress in nutritional policy. It's fundamental to introduce front-of-pack nutritional labels, clear legislation on health claims, and a ban on junk food marketing to youth. These steps are vital for consumer protection!
Suzy Sumner foodwatch International

The Farm to Fork Strategy introduced in May 2020 promised significant advancements in addressing nutritional issues. However, the promises have not been fulfilled and the lack of progress is concerning.

Although many scientific studies back the need to shift to healthier diets, there has been too little action taken to enable consumers to make informed and healthier choices. Indeed, these measures are crucial for supporting initiatives like 'Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan' and tackling non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

Healthier future for all EU citizens

The open letter pointed out three key priorities, that should be at the top of the next political agenda regarding health and food:

  1. Implement Nutri-Score as a Mandatory Label: Nutri-Score is a scientifically validated front-of-pack nutritional label that provides clear information about the nutritional content of food. On a voluntary basis, many EU countries have already adopted this tool. Making it mandatory and harmonized across the EU would empower consumers to make informed choices about their diet.
  2. Legislate on Health and Nutrition Claims: Health and nutrition claims must be linked to improved nutrient profiles and better regulated to prevent consumer confusion and misinformation. Current regulations are inadequate, leading to misleading claims that undermine public health efforts. 
  3. Ban Marketing of Junk Food to Young People: Many member states are reluctant to tell consumers what to eat. However, in the absence of independent, scientific information the only “advice” consumers are receiving is in the form of aggressive marketing campaigns from the food industry, often targeted at children. Banning the marketing of junk food to young people is essential for protecting their health and well-being.

Strong measures to promote nutrition and combat diet-related diseases are essential for protecting public health and reducing the burden on healthcare systems and economies.

As we transition to the next political term, it's imperative that nutrition remains at the forefront of EU policy priorities. By prioritizing initiatives such as Nutri-Score implementation, legislation on health and nutrition claims, and marketing bans, we can work towards a healthier future for all EU citizens.